Ole Miss seeking season sweep over No. 22 Mississippi State

Posted on Feb 1 2019 - 5:50am by Jack Gentry

While it may be premature to be calling any game a “must-win” for Ole Miss basketball, 14-6 (4-3), the Saturday afternoon matchup with No. 22 Mississippi State, 15-5 (3-4), is teetering on the verge of a “must-win.”

The Rebels suffered a gut-wrenching loss on the road to Florida on Wednesday night, marking their third consecutive defeat and dropping them into the middle of the SEC standings. In a stretch where this team has dropped four out of the last five games, Ole Miss cannot afford to let one loss beat them twice.

Head coach Kermit Davis will be looking for a season sweep of his alma mater, Mississippi State, where he played two seasons from 1980-1982. In addition to his own basketball career in Starkville, Kermit Davis’s father served as the head coach of the Bulldogs from 1970-1977. Pressure is mounting for Kermit Davis and his squad to demonstrate an ability to perform under tough circumstances.

In looking back on the overtime loss against Florida, many questioned a late-game decision that might have cost the Rebels the game. The controversial decision not to foul late against Florida came in the waning seconds, with eight ticks left on the clock and his team up by three.

“Normally, about 90 percent of the time, we foul in that situation, which was almost nine seconds,” Kermit Davis said about his strategy following the loss. “We like to keep it six seconds and under.”

In the first battle between the two in-state rivals on Jan. 12, it was Ole Miss that edged out the then-No. 14 Mississippi State squad in an 81-77 affair in Starkville. Freshman Blake Hinson stole the show scoring a career-high 26 points behind a hot shooting stroke and connecting on five out of 11 from beyond the three-point line.

Breein Tyree contributed 19 points and five assists. The Rebels will likely need more from Terence Davis, who had just 12 points the last time he faced the Bulldogs. The senior who averages 16.4 PPG is coming off an impressive 26-point outburst in the loss to Florida on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs will trudge into Oxford led by the Weatherspoon brothers, Quinndary and Nick, along feared shot-blocker Aric Holman.

Senior Quinndary Weatherspoon ranks third in the SEC with 17.2 PPG while his sophomore brother Nick is averaging 10.1 points. Holman will be a tough task inside for the Ole Miss big men with the 6-foot-10-inch center averaging 11.5 PPG to go along with a team-high 7.7 boards per game and 2.2 blocks per game, which ranks third in the SEC in shot-blocking.

However, after a scary fall Tuesday night against Alabama, it remains to be seen whether Weatherspoon will suit up against the Rebels on Saturday. The Bulldogs did receive some good news on the younger Weatherspoon when his MRI results Wednesday revealed no tear or structural damage in his knee.

Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday inside The Pavilion, where the Rebels are 9-2 this season. In order to keep their heads above water in an SEC stocked full of parity, Ole Miss will need more production outside of the Breein Tyree and Terence Davis duo.