Published on March 7th, 2020 | by TLV News0
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Basketball Preview: Game is Today, Saturday, March 7 at 5:30 pm
In a season where neither team looks like it’s headed to the NCAA Tournament, barring an unlikely run to the SEC Tournament title, the regular-season finale between Ole Miss (15-15, 6-11 SEC) and Mississippi State (19-11, 10-7 SEC) this Saturday (March 7th) at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville has added meaning.
The bitter rivalry resulted in a comprehensive 83-58 win for Ole Miss when they hosted Hail State back on February 11th. But the Bulldogs have gone an impressive 4-2 since then, while Ole Miss is 2-4. Indeed, the Rebels lost four straight immediately after their rivalry-game victory. Their only victories since that time came against Missouri (third-last in the SEC) and Vanderbilt (dead-last in the SEC).
The odds for the game favor the home Bulldogs by about 6.5 points, according to the college basketball odds right here.
Evidently, oddsmakers are not putting a lot of value on the first meeting between the teams, when Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree had arguably the game of his exceptional college career, dropping 40 points with five rebounds and four assists. He shot 13-22 from the field (59%) and his 10 of 11 free throws.
Tyree’s success against State goes back to his freshman season, when he dropped 24 on the Bulldogs in a thrilling 87-82 OT win in Starkville.
But it’s evident that he’ll need some help on Saturday. When he has to shoulder the entire offensive load, the Bulldogs tend to lose. When they beat Mississippi State earlier, Khadim Sy had 18 points while Devontae Shuler added 16.
In the Rebels’ four consecutive losses after the February 11th meeting, Tyree averaged 23.0 PPG. Only once in those four games did a teammate have more than 16. (Shuler had 21 in a 103-78 rout at the hands of Alabama.)
However, in the teams’ two recent wins, Tyree has only scored 20 points combined, but he’s averaged 4.0 assists (compared to just 2.6 for the season) and gotten significant contributions from all the starters. Between the two games, nine of the ten starters have scored in double figures.
Since losing to Ole Miss, State has been solid, if not spectacular. Their two losses since that time both came on the road, first to an up-and-town Aggies squad and, most recently, to a game South Carolina team. Their four win have been over Arkansas and Missouri on the road, and South Carolina and Alabama at home.
Big-man Reggie Perry, the lone bright spot in the loss at Oxford (24 points), has continued the strong play that’s characterized his entire season. He’s been a monster on the glass lately, averaging just over 11 rebounds per game in his last four (compared to 9.9 for the season).
Unlike Tyree, Perry has a decent amount of secondary scoring around him. The next three leading scorers on the team average 12.4 PPG, compared to just 10.7 on the Rebels.
At 19-11 on the year, Mississippi State still has an outside chance of an at-large big in the NCAA tournament. That said, they weren’t even in the last four out in ESPN’s latest bracket projections. If they don’t beat Ole Miss and at least make the title game in the SEC tournament, it will be a tough sell to the Selection Committee.
So, for Ben Howland’s group, it’s basically do-or-die.