February 09, 2012
Notes, thoughts and whatnot from Mississippi State's 70-60 win over Ole Miss Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville:
-- Andy Kennedy tried everything early. He tried Aaron Jones. He tried LaDarius White.
Mississippi State jumped on the Rebels early, built a double-digit lead. Ole Miss cut the deficit to seven a couple of times and to six once late in the first half, but man, the Rebels looked lost on one offensive possession after another. In football terms, Ole Miss is a ball-control, option-oriented offensive team trying to comeback from a two-touchdown deficit. In a word: Ugly.
Specifically, the Rebels can't shoot. While Mississippi State is no offensive juggernaut, the Bulldogs can knock down a trey here and there. Ole Miss is anemic on offense. The Rebels hit 43.1 percent of their shots from the floor Thursday, including three of nine 3-point attempts. As usual, Ole Miss was awful at the free throw line, hitting just 46.7 percent of its attempts from the stripe.
-- Good news for Ole Miss fans: Unless you see him in the Southeastern Conference tournament next month in New Orleans, that's the last you'll see of Mississippi State guard Dee Bost. His parting gift _ 15 points, 13 assists _ was one the Rebels will remember for a long, long time.
-- Earlier this week, Murphy Holloway said the Rebels were a better team than Mississippi State. The confidence is admirable, but Holloway's wrong. The Bulldogs are better than Ole Miss. The proof, unless Ole Miss finds a way to change its identity in the next few weeks, will be delivered by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. As of today, the Bulldogs are in the field. Ole Miss is not. Period. Simple as that.
-- I'm not going to spend much time on this or call names, but good grief, some of the media in this state need to have their credentials revoked. The fandom is out of control. The Twitter feeds of several beat writers smack of sheer allegiance. Put your fan cards down, boys. That goes both ways. It happens at Ole Miss, too. Memo to coaches: The homers are the first to turn on you.
-- Back to basketball. Ole Miss has made a living this season on the glass. On Thursday, however, Mississippi State seemed to dominate the boards on both ends. Mississippi State won the rebounding margin, 36-31, but it seemed worse than that. Ole Miss isn't good enough on offense to lose the battle of the boards and still win. That's two games in a row Ole Miss has lost on the glass. Not coincidentally, that's two straight losses.
-- If Renardo Sidney would ever get in shape, he could make some money in the NBA. He has a really nice touch on his outside shot and a sweet array of post moves. He's just fat. Still, his 14 points and seven rebounds Thursday were big for the Bulldogs.
-- Terrance Henry had six points on 2-of-9 shooting. Nick Williams threw up a goose egg, scoring zero points on 0-for-6 shooting. Needless to say, that's an equation for losing for Ole Miss.
-- Bright spots: Reginald Buckner was solid, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Jelan Kendrick kept things respectable, scoring 11 points and grabbing five boards off the bench. Jarvis Summers played with confidence, scoring 12 points and dishing out four assists. Ole Miss committed just six turnovers, easily one of the Rebels' better games in that category all season. Throw in good games from Henry and Williams and things might have been different. Alas...
-- Where do things stand now? Ole Miss is 14-9 overall and 4-5 in the SEC. Bottom line, the Rebels have to be perfect from here on out _ sans the loss at Kentucky due on Feb. 18; that's no slap either _ to get into the NCAA tournament. In other words, Ole Miss has to beat Auburn, Vanderbilt, LSU and Alabama at home while beating Tennessee and Arkansas on the road. That's a 10-6 SEC mark. A 9-7 record might be enough, but right now, Ole Miss' losses at Auburn and at Alabama look like killers.