After Stefan Moody’s career-high 43 points against Mississippi State the question was raised on social media: What have been the most dominant individual performances by Ole Miss athletes in the modern era.
I saw this question as I was working on deadline and had little more time than to say, “Hmmm, interesting question.”
Minutes later it was answered by Chase Parham of RebelGrove.com with three that will be hard to argue with, but you can argue it depending on your definition of “modern.” The list includes Drew Pomeranz as a sophomore in the 2009 Oxford Regional championship game against Western Kentucky, running back Dexter McCluster against Tennessee later that fall in 2009 and now Moody.
After Ole Miss had won the first two games of the regional, Western Kentucky, a hard-hitting and dynamic offensive team that season, won the first of the two games it would have to win to advance.
Pomeranz came back on two days rest on a Monday night and threw a complete game two-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts.
McCluster had 324 all-purpose yards, 282 rushing yards and four touchdowns against the Vols in a 42-17 Ole Miss win. It just seemed like every time McCluster touched the ball that day it was a big play. Then-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin would later say he thought his team set a record for missed tackles. That was also the return of former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron to Ole Miss. He was a Vols assistant then. He was an LSU assistant this past season, so Ed is 0-2 playing against the Rebels in Oxford.
Moody was 11-for-24 from the floor, 6-for-12 from 3-point range and 15-for-18 from the free throw line. He finished with 43 points, six assists and eight turnovers. As is often the case, a couple of the turnovers would have been assists if handled cleaner by teammates. That’s not to say most of the turnovers weren’t earned. Moody, believe it or not, looked a little tight at the beginning and had five turnovers in the first five or six minutes of the game.
In a two-year career Moody would have faced MSU four times had he not missed this year’s Starkville game with the injured hamstring.
He was fairly average the first time he faced the Bulldogs. It was Jan. 28, 2015 in Oxford. Moody had 14 points. He was 5-for-15 from the floor and 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
It was a big turnaround for Moody in Starkville on Feb. 19 of last year when he had 29 points on 8-for-16 shooting, 8-for-12 from 3-point range.
So in Moody’s last two games against MSU, he goes 14-for-24 from 3-point range. The difference last night was that he was so effective in the lane and from mid-range. Twenty-five of his 43 points came from inside the arc. He was 15-for-18 at the free throw line. That’s a part of his game that was missing when he lit up the Bulldogs in Starkville a year ago.
Unless these two meet in the SEC tournament Moody will end his career averaging 28.6 points against MSU.
Now the question. When does the “modern era” begin?
Moody’s 43 points were the most by an Ole Miss player since Gerald Glass’ 53 in the famous shootout with LSU guard Chris Jackson at Tad Smith Coliseum, you guys remember that place don’t you, in 1988. Jackson had 55 points, but Ole Miss won 113-112 in overtime.
Speaking of the Glass-Jackson shootout, here you go:
Chris Jackson refused comment after the game.
Glass had 53 points on 20-for-36 shooting and 14 rebounds. I haven’t found a complete box score from that game. That was the third year of the 3-point line for college basketball. I doubt if Glass had as many turnovers in that game as Moody did, but Glass also wasn’t running the point.
Moody’s 43 only ties him for 13th among the highest-scoring games in school history. Johnny Neumann had 43 or more 10 times including 63 against LSU in 1971 which remains the school record. In addition to Neumann, Don Kessinger (twice) and Joe Gibbon also exceeded 43 points.
As a child of the 80s I probably tend to stretch the definition of “modern” more than most.
Certainly Moody’s performance is the best three decades. Modern may fit too.