GAME NOTES: Intrastate foes do battle at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs host the Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC clash.
Ole Miss played its first league game of the season on Thursday night and edged Auburn for the 65-62 win. The Rebels had been losers of two of three prior to Thursday's victory and are now 10-4 overall this season, which includes a solid 2-1 road record.
Mississippi State opened up its SEC schedule on Wednesday night with a difficult road test at nationally-ranked Kentucky, which it lost by an 85-63 final. The Bulldogs have now lost two of three, but they have still impressed on the season as a whole with a 10-4 overall ledger.
These old rivals are certainly familiar with one another, as Mississippi State leads the storied all-time series over Ole Miss, 140-107, which includes wins in 22 of the past 30 meetings.
In a game that consisted of 10 ties and 11 lead changes, Ole Miss ultimately outlasted Auburn earlier in the week by shooting a slightly better percentage from the field (.434 to .393) and by owning an 18-9 advantage in the takeaway battle. Derrick Millinghaus led the way with 16 points, while Aaron Jones tallied 12 points and seven rebounds while also making his presence known on the defensive end of the floor with five blocks and five steals. Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White were also solid with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The Rebels are used to putting up much higher point totals this season, as they average 78.7 ppg on 43.7 percent from the field, which includes a 38.4 percent showing from beyond the arc with 8.1 3-pointers per game. Marshall Henderson (18.8 ppg) shoots just 36 percent from the field but has been highly active from long distance (53-of-138). Summers (17.5 ppg) is a much more efficient guard than Henderson, making good on 53 percent of his field goal tries, while Millinghaus brings 10.9 ppg to the table.
The Bulldogs were simply no match for Kentucky in their most recent contest, as they were outshot from the field, 49.2 percent to 40.4 percent, and outrebounded, 44-28, on their way to a 22-point loss in a game they actually led at the half. Despite committing five turnovers on the night, Craig Sword was impressive with 19 points on 5-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. Trivante Bloodman and Roquez Johnson were each impressive off the bench with 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Gavin Ware hauled in 10 rebounds.
Mississippi State has steadily outpaced its opponents this season en route to its impressive record, as it shoots 45.7 percent from the field for 70.3 ppg, while allowing 66.9 ppg on just 43.2 percent shooting. It also owns a +2.4 turnover margin, although its lackluster free-throw percentage (.647) has been a detriment. Sword leads the way with 14.6 ppg, doing so on a lofty 55.8 percent field-goal efficiency. Ware (10.7 ppg) is also an impressive shot (.578) and ranks third in the SEC with 9.0 rpg. Colin Borchert (9.9 ppg) and Johnson (9.2 ppg) are also regular contributors.
Mississippi State is the more physical of the two squads, which will play to its benefit in front of its home crowd in this one. The Rebels' outside shooting should keep the contest close throughout, but figure the Bulldogs to come away victorious.
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