Ole Miss fends off Bulldogs

Published 10:35 am Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mississippi State forward Gavin Ware (20) works against Ole Miss’ Sebastian Saiz on Wednesday. Ware scored 12 points, but Ole Miss won the game 79-73. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

Mississippi State forward Gavin Ware (20) works against Ole Miss’ Sebastian Saiz on Wednesday. Ware scored 12 points, but Ole Miss won the game 79-73. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

OXFORD (AP) — The offensive possession was not what Ole Miss wanted, with Jarvis Summers dribbling aimlessly beyond the 3-point line with no real plan or direction.

As the shot clock wound down, the senior guard had no choice, firing an off-balance 3-pointer toward the rim.

Somehow, things worked out for the Rebels. Just like the rest of the game.

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Summers nailed that 3-pointer and was fouled on the play, completing a four-point play that helped Ole Miss rally past Mississippi State 79-73 on Wednesday night at Tad Smith Coliseum.

“I give our guys credit for staying in the fight,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Just stay in the fight, stay in the fight and make enough plays to survive.”

And the Rebels (13-7, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) had to fight hard to survive. They trailed for most of the game, including 45-32 early in the second half. The Rebels have won four in a row at home against the Bulldogs.

Stefan Moody scored 14 points and LaDarius White added 12 for Ole Miss.

Summers scored 22 points — all in the second half — to lead the Rebels to the come-from-behind win. The Ole Miss victory was a surprising conclusion considering Mississippi State (9-11, 2-5) led in several statistical categories and shot 55.6 percent (30 of 54) from the field.

“I think we’re past the point of moral victories — we want to win,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. “In order for this program to take the next step, we’ve got to win games like this.”

Mississippi State’s Craig Sword scored a season-high 27 points, making 10 of 13 shots from the field. Gavin Ware added 12 points and I.J. Ready had 10.

Summers made his four-point play with 3:16 remaining, turning a tight game into a 71-65 advantage that proved to be insurmountable for the Bulldogs.

It was the 250th game in the long-running rivalry, but only Mississippi State looked interested in the outcome for much of the evening.

The Bulldogs stunned the home crowd by hitting six of their first seven shots on the way to a 13-2 lead. Mississippi State hasn’t been a good shooting team for much of the season, but jumper after jumper fell when the Ole Miss defense backed off and dared the Bulldogs to try from long range.

Sword, a 6-foot-3 guard, played his best game of the year, hitting from long range and slicing to the basket for easy buckets. He led the Bulldogs in scoring last season, but has been limited this year after having back surgery in October.

Ole Miss responded with its own 17-2 run later in the first half to briefly take the lead, but Mississippi State recovered for a 32-28 advantage at halftime.

The Bulldogs were far from finished. They took a 45-32 lead on a jumper by Ready with 16:29 remaining, getting consistently good looks against a tentative, undisciplined Ole Miss defense.

The Rebels recovered just in time. Little-used reserve Anthony Perez nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 60 with 6:16 remaining and Dwight Coleby hit two free throws with 5:42 left to give Ole Miss its first lead of the second half.

Summers was clutch during the late-game surge, making 12 of 15 from the free-throw line and also dishing out seven assists.

“We just can’t lose against (Mississippi State),” Summers said. “Playing our rival, we’ve just got to do whatever it takes to get the win.”