By Logan Lowery
ATLANTA – Last season, Ole Miss took advantage of a first-round bye and reeled off three wins in Nashville to claim the 2013 SEC tournament crown.
It was the second SEC Tournament title for the Rebels and first since 1981.
The defending champions received another opening-round bye this season and their 78-66 win over Mississippi State on Thursday night improved the sixth-seeded Rebels to 8-6 at the event under Andy Kennedy, winning six of their last seven.
Thursday night was just the second meeting between the Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the SEC tournament. The only other time the two faced off came in 2003 in New Orleans with the Bulldogs claiming a 73-64 victory.
Of the 250 times the Magnolia State rivals have met on the hardwood, only 10 battles have been on a neutral court. The two teams also played in Atlanta in 1923, a game MSU won 33-26.
Other neutral-court outings have taken place in Greenwood (twice in 1930), Meridian (1938, 1939), Jackson (1938, 1939) and Vicksburg (1940).
It was the first time Ole Miss defeated the Bulldogs twice in the same season since 1998. The Rebels evened the neutral court record between the two programs at 5-5.
Dogs’ season ends
For the second consecutive season, the Bulldogs and Rick Ray saw their season come to a close in the second round of the SEC tournament.
Ray falls to 2-2 at the event while MSU is 29-51 all-time. The Bulldogs are now 9-9 in games played in the Georgia Dome, the site of their 2002 SEC Championship run.
State finished the year with a 14-19 record and has posted back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1988-89. Ray is 24-41 in his first two seasons in Starkville.