For the first time since conference action began, Mississippi State and Ole Miss found themselves on opposite sides of the win/loss column in midweek action.
The Bulldogs (13-6, 2-4 SEC) were unable to steal a road match at Florida, whereas Ole Miss (16-3, 3-3 SEC) won their 12th straight home game in a victory over Arkansas.
Mississippi State 70, Florida 79
A late separation by the Gators in the first half ultimately cemented Wednesday night’s contest in Florida’s advantage
Things were neck-and-neck early in the first 10 minutes of action with the Bulldogs leading by as many as 5, but the half took a turn in Florida’s advantage.
With things tied up 17-17 with under nine minutes remaining in the half, Florida went on to add 26 points to the scoreboard compared to Mississippi State’s 17 to hold a 43-34 advantage at the midway break.
Florida started to pull away early in the second half and led by as many as 17, but Mississippi State put together a valiant comeback at the tail end of the game that would ultimately prove futile.
The difference in the game was shooting. Florida out-shot Mississippi State by nearly 5% from the floor and 8% from behind the arc.
MSU won the rebounding battle by 5, but lost the turnover battle by 3. The Bulldogs’ inability to claw back within two offensive possessions resulted in the team’s constant struggle to put the ball in the basket.
Freshman standout Josh Hubbard led the Bulldogs in scoring with 26 points. Star center Tolu Smith recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gators had four players reach double-digits on the scoreboard with Will Richard’s 15 being the most. Walter Clayton, Jr., and Zyon Pullin had 15 a piece and Tyrese Samuel had 12.
Next up for Chris Jans’ squad is a Saturday afternoon battle versus No. 8 Auburn beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Ole Miss 77, Arkansas 51
The Rebels took care of business at home, a place where they’ve only had success this season, after a two-game road stint in which Chris Beard’s squad dropped both matches.
Ole Miss fed off an electric midweek crowd sparked by students being back on campus. The Rebels took control of the game early and never looked back against a short-handed Arkansas team missing its leading scorer in Tramon Mark.
A Jaemyn Brakefield triple got things started in the Pavilion and catapulted Ole Miss on an 18-6 run in under eight minutes. Guards Jaylen Murray and Matthew Murrell fueled the Rebels to build on its lead to hold a 28-14 advantage with 7:12 left in the half.
Arkansas clawed back, reducing its deficit to six with just over four minutes remaining before halftime, but the Rebels closed out strong to lead 38-26 at the intermission.
The last 20 minutes of play completely belonged to Ole Miss. The Rebels turned a 12-point lead into a 19-point one in less than five minutes. Murray stepped on the gas, scoring 11 of the team’s next 21 points in a large run to put the Razorbacks away.
In the final nine minutes of play, the Rebels held Arkansas to just eight total points. With 51 points on the Razorbacks’ side of the scoreboard, Ole Miss had broken a season record for the fewest points it had surrendered in a game. Arkansas also only made 17 field goals in the contest — a season-low for them.
A collective team effort, the Rebels scored by committee with four players eclipsing double digits on the scoreboard. Murray led the way with 21 points. Murrell had 18, Brakefield scored 11, and Flanigan posted 10.
In rare fashion, Beard’s team won the rebounding battle by a significant margin. Ole Miss hauled in 15 more boards than Arkansas, securing 16 on the offensive glass. Flanigan led in rebounding with 11.
Ole Miss will look to record its first road win over an SEC foe this season on Saturday at Texas A&M. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. central.
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