State Tops In-State Rival Ole Miss, 60-56
Published 8:28 am Monday, January 11, 2021
STARKVILLE – With a 60-56 win against Ole Miss at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday night, No. 14 Mississippi State extended its win streak against the Rebels to 14 in a row.
“When it comes to this game tonight, I told our team it’s an ugly win,” said head coach Nikki McCray-Penson. “We didn’t do some things in the second half. You can’t do that against a very talented Ole Miss team. We just really fell apart in the second half. We had open looks. We were tired. The shots weren’t bad, but it was not the shots that we needed at the time. We can’t hang our hats on offense. We have to lock down and defend. When we needed to get a stop, we got a stop. That was very critical for us. I thought our team was locked in down the stretch in making them take the shots that we wanted them to take, then we got the rebound.”
Jessika Carter posted another strong performance, nearly recording a double-double with a team-high 19 points, nine rebounds and one block. The junior forward scored 15 of her points during the second and third quarters, when State (8-2, 3-1 SEC) outscored Ole Miss 38-26.
Aliyah Matharu provided a huge offensive spark off the bench. The SEC Sixth Woman of the Year candidate finished the contest with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers, four assists, two rebounds and one block.
“Coach McCray always says to start out with an easy shot to get your feel,” said Matharu. “As soon as I came into the game, I got fouled on a layup and got an easy and-one. From there, I found my rhythm and flow and my teammates were finding me wide open for three. I was able to knock down my shots.”
Myah Taylor rounded out the double-digit scorers by posting 10 points, eight assists, four steals, three rebounds and one block. Rickea Jackson recorded nine points and five boards in the contest.
Defensively, Mississippi State forced 15 turnovers, which resulted in 18 points for the Bulldogs, and recorded eight steals and three blocks. MSU held the Rebels (7-2, 1-2 SEC) to just 56 points after averaging 80.4 points per game coming into the contest. State also allowed Ole Miss to shoot just 13 percent from beyond the arc.
On the offensive end, the Bulldogs assisted on 14 shots and had 18 bench points. Despite only having seven offensive rebounds, State managed to finish the game with 15 second-chance points. MSU shot just 38 percent from the field.
The first quarter was all defense, as State forced four turnovers and recorded two steals and two blocks in the period, while Ole Miss held the Bulldogs to just 25 percent shooting from the floor. State used a 12-4 run during the middle of the frame to take pull ahead early, but a pair of late jumpers by the Rebels evened the score at 12-12.
Both teams picked it up offensively in the second stanza, with MSU shooting 58 percent from the field and Ole Miss shooting a 50-percent clip. The Bulldogs assisted on six of its seven baskets in the period while forcing six more turnovers on defense. Carter and Matharu both chipped in six points each to help State take a 31-27 lead into halftime. The duo accounted for 10 of State’s final 16 points in the quarter. For the half, Matharu led all players with 11 points behind three 3-pointers.
After Ole Miss made it a one-possession game with eight minutes left in the stanza, Mississippi State responded with a 14-2 run and held the Rebels to a five-minute scoring drought to extend its lead to double digits. Carter scored nine points in the period to give State a 50-38 lead heading into the final frame.
The Rebels wouldn’t go away quietly, though. After MSU jumped out to a 56-44 advantage with 6:57 remaining, Ole Miss used an 10-0 run to make it a two-point game with 3:52 left. After missing eight-straight shot attempts and being held without a basket for more than five and a half minutes, the Bulldogs finally knocked down a shot on a tough layup by Taylor, who then iced the game with a pair of free throws with 0.4 left in the game.
Up next, Mississippi State stays at home to face Alabama at Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday night. The game will tip at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on SEC Network+ and streamed on the MSU Radio Network.