By Parrish Alford
ATLANTA – Whether fresh legs or fresh desire, Ole Miss had what it needed down the stretch.
A day after rival Mississippi State snapped a 13-game losing streak, the Bulldogs came out hot as a firecracker and built a lead of 13 points in the early minutes of the second half.
With contributions from a number of different players, No. 6 seed Ole Miss rallied for a 78-66 win at the Georgia Dome and advances to an SEC tournament quarterfinal meeting with third-seeded Georgia tonight. The game will tip off at approximately 8:30.
In the first neutral court meeting between the Mississippi rivals since 2003, the win gives Ole Miss a 2-1 edge in the season series.
It’s the first time since 1998 that Ole Miss has beaten MSU twice in the same season.
MSU guard Fred Thomas was 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and the Bulldogs shot 57.7 percent in the first half en route to a 44-35 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs upped that advantage to 16 points before Ole Miss took its first lead as LaDarius White scored in the lane for a 57-56 Rebels advantage with 8:12 to play.
It was the third attempt at the lead for Ole Miss. Once the Rebels got it, they poured it on. The shots so frequently falling for the Bulldogs began to miss the mark, and Ole Miss started grabbing rebounds that had often gone to MSU’s Gavin Ware.
MSU (14-19) opened the game on a 10-0 run it kept the Rebels’ best players from keeping pace.
As the game wore on, Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers knocked down big shots as they have when the Rebels (19-13) have been at their best this season.
Henderson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, the second giving Ole Miss a 71-60 lead with 2 minutes, 41 seconds to play.
Henderson finished with 21 points on 7-for-19 3-point shooting. Summers also scored 21, going 7-for-17 from the floor, 3-for-4 from 3-point range.
Thomas and Craig Sword each scored 16 points. Ware had eight points and 10 rebounds as MSU had a plus-1 advantage on the boards.