Will McNair Jr. scored a season-high 13 points as Mississippi State held on against visiting Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss with a 64-54 victory Saturday in Starkville, Miss.
McNair scored seven of his points in the second half, including two off a nice move in front of the rim that put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 43-41 with 8:57 to play.
McNair also pulled down seven rebounds while Tolu Smith added 12 points for the Bulldogs (12-3, 1-2 SEC), who snapped a three-game losing streak.
Matthew Murrell scored 19 points while Jaemyn Brakefield added 10 for the Rebels (8-7, 0-3), who have lost four in a row and have gone six consecutive games without scoring more than 65.
Ole Miss trailed 26-23 at the half but surged in front 38-31 before a backbreaking 16-3 run by Mississippi State swayed the momentum in favor of the Bulldogs.
Three-pointers by Dashawn Davis and Eric Reed Jr. in a span of a minute sealed the deal for Mississippi State, which extended its lead to 57-46 with 2:14 left off Reed’s trey.
One of the oldest rivalries in college basketball favored Mississippi State early.
The Bulldogs grabbed their first lead at 9-8 on a 3-pointer off the glass by D.J. Jeffries with 15:22 to play in the half. Three minutes later, Jeffries drove down the lane and scored off a layup for a 15-8 advantage.
Ole Miss went more than 10 minutes without hitting a shot following a Brakefield jumper at the 17:30 mark of the first half. Jayveous McKinnis’ basket off a turnover with 7:23 to play ended the field goal drought, cutting the Mississippi State lead to 18-12.
That seemed to spark the Rebels, who then pulled within 18-15 on a wide-open 3-pointer by TJ Caldwell with 5:47 left in the half.
Cameron Matthews threw down a ferocious jam off a miss 90 seconds later to push the lead back to five.
The Rebels only trailed by three at the half after Murrell’s basket as time expired.
–Field Level Media