Two in-state rivals met at Humphrey Coliseum over the weekend as the MSU men’s squad (12-5) took on the visiting Ole Miss Rebels (9-8) this past Saturday.
MSU ended up as the victor via a final score of 78-60in front of an impressively large Bulldog crowd despite the team’s recent loss to Florida. It was about as well balanced of a scoring effort as MSU could hope for, with all five starters reaching double figures in the affair. Iverson Molinar notched his 1000th career point as he poured in 20, while Garrison Brooks made sure to heed the advice of his teammates and coaches and simply shoot the ball. The Bulldog forward did just that, and added in 17 points of his own.
There was, however, a haze over this win if you will, because with a little over a minute left to play, MSU big man Tolu Smith collapsed in the lane with an apparent knee injury. After the game, head coach Ben Howland stated that the preliminary diagnosis was a dislocated knee, but “that could totally be off.” Smith will go for an MRI at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, according to Howland.
Despite the uncertainty around Smith’s results, this was a much needed win for MSU, and was the most balanced the team has looked all season. Bulldog guard Shakeel Moore echoed this after the game when speaking to reporters.
“Any time your starting five is getting double digits, that’s pretty good, you know, it’s great actually,” said Moore, ”You know, we continue to keep getting better and chemistry keeps building and building, and you know that’s just a great thing for us when any guy on any given night can give us double digits off the bench or as a starter.”
Not only was the Bulldog scoring effort the best it's been all season, but the defensive intensity was there as well from each and every player. MSU scored 20 points off turnovers to the Rebels’ 9 and only allowed 2 fast-break points the entire game. MSU also held Ole Miss to only 19 points in the second half, out-scoring the in-state rival by 17 points in the second period alone.
All in all, MSU picked up a solid win against an in-state rival on their home court before they hit what is possibly the most grueling portion of their schedule as they’ll face the 12th ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena on Tuesday before flying out to Lubbock to face off against 19th ranked Texas Tech on Saturday. Those games tip off at 8 p.m. and 5 p.m. CT respectively, and will be aired on ESPN and ESPN 2.