STARKVILLE – Mississippi State and Ole Miss will renew the Southeastern Conference’s longest rivalry today when the two Magnolia State programs meet in Starkville at 3 p.m. on ESPNU.
It will be the 248th meeting between the two schools on the hardwood, with the Bulldogs holding a 140-107 advantage in the series. They have split in six of the last eight seasons with MSU claiming 14 of the last 15 meetings inside Humphrey Coliseum.
“It’s going to be an exciting game,” said MSU junior point guard Trivante Bloodman. “There’s going to be a lot of going at each other and everybody is going to be playing tough. I’m just ready and excited for the game.”
In the last 30 outings in the series against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs are 22-8. Rebels coach Andy Kennedy’s lone win in Starkville came during 2008-09, and he is 5-9 all-time against State.
The Rebels claimed the first game against Mississippi State in Oxford last season, 93-75, behind a 31-point performance from Marshall Henderson, including six 3-pointers. However, Henderson struggled behind the arc in Starkville, making just 3-of-18 shots and finishing with 16 points in a 73-67 defeat.
Henderson will conclude his three-game suspension today, leaving the Rebels without their leading scorer for a second straight game. Ole Miss (10-4) outlasted Auburn 65-62 at home Thursday night to open SEC play, getting 16 points from sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus.
The Bulldogs dropped their league lid-lifter Wednesday night on the road at No. 14 Kentucky, 85-63, to fall to 10-4 on the year. MSU jumped out on a 12-2 run to start the game and led the Wildcats 40-37 at halftime but was outscored by 25 points in the second half.
“I haven’t seen (MSU) other than casually,” Kennedy said. “I think Rick (Ray) has done a good job. I did see that they were leading at the half at Rupp (Arena). They’ve got the same cast, and those guys have gotten a little bit older. I know they’ve got a number of different weapons, and that place has never been very friendly to the Rebels.”
The Bulldogs’ win over Ole Miss last season snapped a 13-game losing skid in front of the largest crowd of the year. Ray is hoping to recreate the same environment today even though the spring semester does not begin until Monday.
“It’s really a shame that we’re playing our rival when the students are not here,” Ray said. “We were on a 13-game losing streak before that win over Ole Miss last year. The way the student body and community came out against Ole Miss really meant a lot, and I’d be lying if I said our guys didn’t notice it as well. Hopefully we’ll get a great crowd.”