Rebels hand MSU another road loss

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy admitted his team’s 85-73 win Tuesday night over Mississippi State was satisfying but had to be taken with a proper perspective.

“It’s a win over an in-state rival and our fans will be happy, but one game can’t be the measuring stick,” Kennedy said. “This league is so good, you don’t have the luxury of being up for one game. You’ve got to grind every game.”

Bam Doyne and Clarence Sanders scored 23 and 22 points, respectively while Todd Abernethy had 19 points and 10 assists. The backcourt trio was decisive. Dwayne Curtis added 14 points and eight rebounds inside.

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“When they shoot like that, I don’t think there’s anybody in the league that will beat them in here,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “They hit shots. That was the difference in beating them at our place. In here, they hit shots.”

Ole Miss (14-8, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), 11-1 in home games, had lost 10 of the last 11 games in the series. The win moved the Rebels out of the SEC Western Division basement and went a long way in enhancing postseason hopes.

“We needed this game to get off the bottom of the West,” Doyne said. “We’d like to play in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, but to do that we had to get out of last place in the West. That’s why this game was important.”

Mississippi State (11-9, 2-5), mired in an 11-game SEC road losing streak, has dropped six of the last eight contests and fell to the bottom of the Western Division standings.

Charles Rhodes led the Bulldogs with 24 points and seven rebounds. Jamont Gordon had 20 points, while Deitric Slater had 11.

The Bulldogs rallied from a 51-36 deficit to pull within 68-64 with 6:36 left.

“We battled to get it back to four points,” Stansbury said. “Then Abernethy and Curtis came up with three or four plays apiece that ended it.”

Curtis opened a game-sealing 13-0 run with a layup off an Abernethy assist. When Doyne closed the surge with four consecutive free throws, Ole Miss held a comfortable 81-64 cushion with 2:24 left.

“We hit some big shots and made big plays,” Doyne said. “We haven’t had an SEC game where we had an early lead and finished. It was something new, but it was great. Maybe we can do it more often.”

The Rebels made 51 percent of their shots, including going 9-of-19 from 3-point range. Sanders was a team-high 4-of-6 from long range.

“It’s important and were happy about it, but it still counts as one win,” Kennedy said. “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played and we can’t be satisfied.”

Ole Miss outrebounded Mississippi State 34-28, something Kennedy called the decisive statistic.

“We were down by four rebounds in the first half and ended up turning that around by 10 rebounds,” he said.