Ole Miss preview

Gavin Ware is averaging 9.5 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Bulldogs this season.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Gavin Ware is averaging 9.5 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Bulldogs this season. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State’s Rick Ray has won two of his five meetings against archrival Ole Miss

Neither of those wins came in Tad Smith Coliseum.

Now in his third season, Ray and the Bulldogs will try and erase that trend tonight at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.

“We’ve got to make sure at some point in time that we go up there and have some success against them at their place,” Ray said. “We’ve won here in the Hump so for us to take that next step, we’ve got to take that act on the road and have some success there.”

MSU lost 93-75 in Oxford during Ray’s rookie season in 2013 and fell 82-63 there last year. Both of Ray’s wins against the Rebels came in Starkville and the other 78-66 loss ended the Bulldogs season in last year’s SEC Tournament.

Ray has seen his share of rivalries while as an assistant coach at stops such as Indiana State, Purdue and Clemson. But there is one aspect of the Ole Miss-Mississppi State rivalry that places it at another level.

“This is as heated a rivalry as I’ve ever experienced,” Ray said. “It just means so much to the individual fans. In some of the other rivalries, there’s some professional franchises and other colleges in those states. Here in the state of Mississippi where there’s no professional franchises and there’s no question that these are the two most dominant collegiate teams in the state, I think it makes it more heated.”

MSU sophomore point guard I.J. Ready was introduced to the Magnolia State rivalry last year. It did not take long for the Little Rock, Ark., native to catch on.

“That’s like life and death, Ole Miss versus Mississippi State,” Ready said. “You’ve got to hate Ole Miss when you go up there. They’re the school up north, I’m not even supposed to call them Ole Miss. That in-state rivalry is ridiculous but I love it. I’m a Mississippi State fan until I die.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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