Published on February 20th, 2015 | by Taylor Rayburn0
Moody Madness: Junior explodes for 29 in 71-65 victory over Mississippi State
Stefan Moody started shooting. And the threes kept dropping. He finished with a career high 29 points with 23 coming in the second half as Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State 71-65 Thursday.
Moody was the only Rebel player who scored in double digits and he scored 40 percent of Ole Miss’ total points. The junior led the Rebels in rebounds and steals as well, registering six and four, respectively.
“I challenged guys in the huddle and he [Moody] was the only guy who responded, which is kind of sad,” Head Coach Andy Kennedy said. “He was the only guy who showed a pulse and we ran one and he made it. If you know me you know that if you make one ill give back to you to see if you can make seven.”
Moody made eight.
Ole Miss (18-8, 9-4) went into Thursday night with high tournament hopes. Mississippi State’s RPI 0f 172 could have been another “bad loss” come Selection Sunday, but Ole Miss was able to rally behind its star player and complete the sweep of the Bulldogs for the first time since 1999. It was also only the second win at Starkville in the Kennedy era.
“Mississippi State is much better than their numbers, as difficult as it is to come in here and win it doesn’t give you the pop from a numbers standpoint,” Kennedy said. “I think our team has passed the eye test, now our numbers have to make sense that is why this game is so important.”
Old demons returned in the first half as Ole Miss was out rebounded 24-11, a problem many thought had been resolved since the beginning of the season. On top of rebounding poorly Ole Miss shot 35.7 percent from the field and leading scorer Stefan Moody only had six points. Despite this all, Ole Miss was only down 27-32 after the first half.
Kennedy clearly had a few choice words at half time, and Ole Miss came out on fire. They started the second half with an eight to two rebounding advantage and gained a 39-34 advantage after the first couple minutes of second half play.
“We have got to do a better job on the glass, they just crushed us early off the offensive glass,” he said. “Then in the second half we were plus eight on rebounds and shot 50 percent.”
The second half dominance continued as Ole Miss led for the majority of the period. Then, Moody went into video game mode and hit back to back to back three pointers.
“I’m just going to jump as high as I can,” said Ole Miss guard Moody. “If you want to block it [his shot] you can jump with me.”
It was also Moody who sealed the game tonight. Moody hit two free throws with fourteen seconds left to make it a two possession game and give the Rebels the 71-65 win.
“Can’t get over this loss,” said Mississippi State guard Craig Sword. “It is a rivalry; it is hard to get over a rivalry game.”
“I’m new so to me it [the rivalry] doesn’t mean much of anything,” he said. “I just want to win.”
Ole Miss has a short turnaround as they host Tennessee on Saturday. Tennessee is 14-11 on the season and a still fighting for bubble spot in the NCAA tournament. Tip off is set for 6:30 pm and will carried by ESPNU.
Complete stats from the game can be found here: Moody Madness