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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Ready shows true leadership on court

Noah Siano | The Reflector

I.J Ready dropped 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds in an overtime loss to Ole Miss. MSU is 14-13 overall this year.

Determination, leadership, hardwork and an attitude that refuses to give up; these are all characteristics that describe the career of and Tuesday night’s basketball game for I.J. Ready. 

Being his senior year, Ready came into the game knowing this would be his second to last home game of his college basketball career, and it was clear that it meant something to him.

He played a total of 39 minutes against the Ole Miss Rebels Tuesday night. Though the outcome resulted in a loss, Ready showed a type of perseverance that Mississippi State basketball has not seen in a quite a while. What was even more impressive were his comments about his 20 point, five assist, and three rebound game. 

“I don’t think I’m bringing enough to the table every night,” Ready said. “I bring leadership, but that’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s our job to will our way to a win.”

Note that there was no indication of what he did well, what his teammates did poorly, or any comment that reflected ability or statistics. He was and remains purely focused on leading and providing enough determination as humanly possible to get his team a win. 

Although a win did not follow behind his excellent play, Ready showed the team and the Starkville community how much he cares about winning. Ready hit the game-tying layup to send the Bulldogs into overtime after coming back from a nine point deficit in the second half. Even the Ole Miss coach, Andy Kennedy, talked about Ready’s play and the Rebels’ inability to stop him at the end of regulation. 

“I.J. Ready just started driving us downhill and we could never get a stop at the end of regulation,” Kennedy said. 

Seeing his face in the press conference, Ready did not have a look of disgust nor a look of content on his face. He possesses a great deal of maturity that can be seen through his expressions and body language both on and off the floor. He realizes his role as a leader and takes it head first into each and every game. 

After multiple close losses to teams of significant status in the college basketball world, everyone expects the team to come out with their heads down and without a fighting chance. That is not the case. While he has never had a winning season as a Bulldog, Ready’s main goal is to just focus on the next game and do all he can to win the one in front of him. He has become a role model for the team who provides hope and instills confidence in the other players.

“I just wanna be there for them and pick up all the slack that I can when I need to. We all still have our heads up; the season is not over.” Ready said. “We got three games left in our conference and I think we can still make a run at it.”

Even after a demoralizing loss to their arch rival, Ole Miss who has won the last seven of eight games played between the two teams, Ready’s only focus remains on winning. Not only does he just want to win for his overall career as a Bulldog, Ready still thinks this team has a shot at making the NCAA tournament.  

“The biggest thing for us is to go out on top. You know, we could still win the SEC tournament and get to the NCAA tournament,” Ready said. “But the biggest thing for us right now is winning the last games of the season.”

The last time Mississippi State reached the big dance was 2009, something that seems like a thing of the past or once in a dream. However, behind the gritty and gutsy performance of I.J. Ready followed by the raw talent of some younger players, this team could very well change that statistic. 

Ready will play his final game at Humphrey Coliseum against LSU on Saturday March 4. However, this game will not be much different for him compared to any other in terms of his play on the court. Ready will play his last game at the Hump like he did every other game, with true heart and undeniable determination.

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Ready shows true leadership on court