BLOG — Jarvis Summers scored a game-high 23 points, LaDarius White had a season-high 16 points and Derrick Millinghaus added 15 points, but Ole Miss couldn’t hold on to a late five-point lead, eventually falling to Mississippi State 76-72 Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.
It was the fifth straight loss against the Bulldogs in Starkville for Ole Miss (10-5, 1-1 SEC), which has dropped eight of the last 11 games in the series. The Rebels have won just once in their last 16 trips to The Hump.
Roquez Johnson led Mississippi State with 20 points while Craig Sword finished with 15 points despite not making a field goal. Colin Borchert had 14 points, and I.J. Ready chipped in 10.
For the first time in seven games, Ole Miss won the rebounding battle 47-37 and tightened up its defense in the second half, allowing the Bulldogs to hit just nine of their 26 attempts from the field in the final 20 minutes, none of which came from 3-point range.
Mississippi State (11-4 1-1 SEC) only attempted 58 shots and made 22 of them — good for just 37 percent — but the Bulldogs leaned heavily on their athleticism to get most of their points from the free throw line. Sword (15 of 18), Trivante Bloodman (3 of 6) and Johnson (6 of 12) made a living driving past Rebel defenders in man defense and penetrated any soft spots when Ole Miss switched to a zone, combining for 36 of Mississippi State’s 42 trips to the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs sank 28 free throws. Ole Miss shot just 12 free throws, hitting 10 of them.
“Obviously it’s very difficult to win on the road anywhere, and when you got outshot by 30 at the free throw line in a one-possession game, it’s going to be difficult,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels stayed close throughout, erasing a seven-point halftime deficit with a 12-0 run to eventually go ahead 58-54 with 9:57 left. Ole Miss stretched the advantage to 66-61 on a pair of free throws from Summers with 4:58 remaining and could’ve increased the lead when Anthony Perez went up to for a putback dunk, but the ball clanged off the back iron. Sword was intentionally fouled by Summers on the other end and hit both free throws to halt the Rebels’ momentum.
“We’re up 66-62 and we’ve got a 6-(foot)-9 long, athletic kid at the rim for a tip dunk,” Kennedy said. “That would’ve been a huge tip dunk. Free at the basket. Missed it. And it turns into a flagrant 1 on the other end. Huge, huge swing.”
A jumper from Ready eventually drew the Bulldogs even at 66. Mississippi State outscored the Rebels 10-6 the rest of the way.
“I think we lost focus toward the end of the game,” Millinghaus said. “We thought we had them, but they kept fighting.”
The Rebels’ next game will be Wednesday at home against LSU. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from today’s game. (January 11, 2014)