OXFORD, MISS — Mississippi State University led by as much as 13 and for 31:52 of their 40 minute game against the University of Mississippi, but Ole Miss led when the clock hit double zero sending MSU back to Starkville with their first SEC loss of the season, losing 64-58.
The game was not for the faint of heart, as a quick glance at the box score shows it was ugly, gritty, grind it out basketball. Neither team shot more than 35 percent from the floor. Ole Miss (9-6, 2-1 SEC) went 21-62 from the floor and MSU (13-2, 1-1 SEC) went 22-63 from the floor. It was worse from behind the three-point line, as the two teams shot a combined 12-51 from deep.
“We are a young team, we have to make better decisions with leads late in games,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said after the game. “Credit them, they did a great job. I thought Ole Miss showed a lot of composure to be down with eight minutes to go and to find a way to come back and win.”
MSU dominated a large part of the game, holding double-digit leads for minutes at a time. However, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy’s decision to switch to a 1-3-1 zone changed the game. MSU had no response to the zone and it suffocated the MSU offense. To beat any zone defense, teams have to make three-point shots, something MSU was unable to do as they went 0-13 in the second half from three.
Another issue for MSU was Ole Miss’ ability to contain the Weatherspoon brothers. The dynamic duo both scored 22 in MSU’s upset win over the No. 22 University of Arkansas last Tuesday night. Against Ole Miss, the freshman Nick led MSU in points with nine, Quinndary scored seven.
Kennedy talked about his gameplan for the brothers after the game.
“We just wanted to make all of Q’s (Quinndary) touches hard ones,” Kennedy said. “We stayed in front of him, we gapped him and then Nick was so explosive that we wanted to make him take hard twos.”
The trip to Oxford was MSU’s first true road game. MSU played all but two of their non-conference games at home. They played one in Kentucky against the University of Cincinnati, because Cincinnati is renovating their arena so they play all their home games off-campus in Kentucky. The other was in Jackson against the University of Southern Mississippi.
MSU failed this test, but Quinndary, a junior from Canton, said they will learn from the loss as they move on to another road test in Gainesville, Florida next Wednesday.
“We just have to keep our head up and stay together as a team,” Quinndary said. “We take this as a loss but have to look forward to the next one against Florida.”
MSU will play the University of Florida in Gainesville. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the SEC Network will broadcast the game.
MSU’s next home game will be against Auburn University on Saturday. Tipoff is set 2:30 p.m. and the SEC Network will broadcast it.