Three takeaways from Ole Miss’ overtime thriller over Mississippi State
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Andy Kennedy admitted after Tuesday night’s 87-82 overtime win over Mississippi State that Ole Miss was devastated over its 98-80 road loss to Arkansas last Saturday. But there’s nothing like a win over an in-state rival to make a team feel better.
In the loss to the Hogs, Kennedy felt like his team didn’t play well and gave up too many great looks at the basket. Against the Bulldogs, however, Kennedy’s team limited Mississippi State’s offense, and its 1-3-1 zone defense kept the Bulldogs (14-13, 5-10 Southeastern Conference) off-balance for the entire night.
“We were devastated; we didn’t play well,” Kennedy said of the loss to the Razorbacks. “When you don’t play well on the road, you typically lose. Tonight, I thought we played really, really hard and I thought we showed some resilience. We didn’t play well offensively.
“…I thought we played really, really hard and gutted out a huge win for us.”
Andy Kennedy on Rebels’ win over State
The Rebels (17-11, 8-7) limited Mississippi State’s backcourt trio of I.J. Ready, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Lamar Peters. Ready led the Bulldogs with 20 points, but had to take 17 shots to get there. He made 6 of his 17 shot attempts.
Weatherspoon, who played the most minutes in the game with 40, had just 14. He came in averaging a team-best 16.7 points per game.
As for Peters, who suffered somewhat of a hand injury in the first half, he had only three points on 1 for 8 shooting. His lone made field goal came with 28 seconds left in the second half to trim Mississippi State’s deficit to 64-61.
Mario Kegler and Weatherspoon had the highest percentage of shots out of a nine player rotation. Kegler made 6 of 11 shots to finish with 15 points. Weatherspoon converted on 7 of 14. The rest of the team made just 18 of 49 shots, including 6 of 24 from 3-point range.
Despite the bad shooting night from Ole Miss (24 of 65), it did everything that was needed to get an SEC road win.
Here are 3 takeaways from the Rebels’ win over the Bulldogs
1. Breein Tyree isn’t afraid of big-game moments
Freshman guard Breein Tyree has proven more than once that he’s capable of playing at a high level when his teammates need him the most. He scored 15 and 20 points in games against Tennessee and Baylor. He came up even bigger against Mississippi State, scoring a game-high 24 points on 9 of 15 shooting, while some of his teammates struggled to find rhythm.
Terence Davis and Deandre Burnett scored in double figures against the Bulldogs, but combined to shoot 5 of 29 from the field. Senior forward Sebastian Saiz added 23 points and 10 rebounds on 6 of 11 shooting.
2. Cullen Neal is a good 3-point spark off the bench
Cullen Neal may not have been one of the Rebels’ double-figures scorers, but he made some big shots when Ole Miss went into scoreless spurts. Neal made two 3’s early in the first half, while the Rebels could only muster four foul shots from Saiz and Davis in a span of six minutes. Neal finished with nine points on 3 of 7 shooting, with his last 3 coming early in the second half to give his team the 34-31 lead.
For the season, Neal is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. If he keeps coming off the bench and making long range shots, the Rebels’ offense could run a lot smoother moving forward.
3. Free throwing shooting propelled Ole Miss to victory
The only way Ole Miss was going to put Mississippi State away in overtime was to make shots from the free throw line. The Rebels made 15 of 20 from the charity stripe in overtime to secure the victory. For the game, Ole Miss made 34 off 44 shots from the foul line. Saiz (11 for 11), Burnett (8 for 8), and Marcanvis Hymon (2 for 2) were perfect from the line. Without a strong showing from the free throw line, the Bulldogs could have stolen one on their home floor.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)