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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs lose thriller, Davis victorious on return home

Noah Siano | The Reflector

Robert Woodard II makes a jump shot and scores during the home game against Ole Miss. 

Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi showed the Egg Bowl rivalry does not end on the football field, it also carries over to the hardwood as an 81-77 Ole Miss victory engaged fans in Starkville to the very end.

This rivalry game was special because it brought the return of one of MSU’s prodigal sons in Kermit Davis, as he led the Rebels to another win over a nationally ranked team. Kermit Davis, the son of former MSU coach Kermit Davis Sr., said it had been a long time since he stepped foot in Humphrey Coliseum.

Having played and coached for the Bulldogs, Kermit Davis still shows love and respect for MSU. Yet, he still raves about he truly believes Ole Miss is the perfect place for him to be right now.

“It’s amazing how the good Lord kinda puts you in places you should be, and my path is exactly for Ole Miss,” Kermit Davis said.

The Rebels played with outstanding offensive efficiency. Ole Miss relied heavily on giving the ball to freshman guard/forward Blake Hinson, who put up an impressive stat line with 26 points, mostly from shooting the ball extremely well by going 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point land, making a total of five threes.

“I was just kinda feeling it, and my teammates were looking for me, too,” Hinson said. “Every time I come in the huddle, they tell me to keep shooting it… I was feeling it and they knew I was feeling it, too.”

Not excluding the rest of the team, the Rebels came to prove they are not push-overs, as they collectively shot well Saturday. Their team had a 46.6 percent field goal percentage and made 12 threes in the game, making for a 38.7 percent 3-point percentage. What stood out the most about the Rebels’ win was how they were able to get those high percentage shots.

The Rebels’ ball movement and screen offense made it tough for the Bulldogs to defend the ball, making the them suffer by an Ole Miss’ player being open either around the perimeter, inside under the basket or becoming open on a well backdoor screen. MSU head coach Ben Howland recognized how well coach Davis’ system worked against the Bulldogs.

“They are a very good offensive team,” Howland said  ”Basically, they’re playing with four guards. They are big kids, very good at screening and rolling… In the second half, they really got it going. They moved the ball well.”

Even though the Bulldogs lost this contest, they went down swinging, as fans should expect, and they shot just as well as the Rebels. MSU went 46.9 percent from the field, getting some good looks and lucky shots to keep the game close.

Although MSU had some great performances from Lamar Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon, the team got a much-needed push from their freshmen players, guard Robert Woodard III and Reggie Perry, who combined for 14 points, scoring seven each.

Woodard scored his seven points in the first half alone, which was shocking for a lot of people because he would only see one minute of play in the second half. He was asked about why he did not get back in, and he simply said, “I don’t know,” grinning at how he did not have another way to answer. However,  Howland had an answer.

“That was my fault and it was really a coaching error because we needed him in there with the way he was guarding Hinson, which had been our best matchup,” Howland said.

The competition will only get tougher as the Bulldogs go deeper into their conference schedule with an 0-2 conference record, and Howland knows exactly what aspect the team needs to improve upon in order to stay relevant and compete with teams like the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers and No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats.

“We got 16 more teams, so the bottom line is: we got to get better defensively,” Howland said.

The Bulldogs end their two-game home stand against the Florida Gators at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15.

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Bulldogs lose thriller, Davis victorious on return home