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Rivals meet up in Starkville for SEC action

Thu 9th, February 2012

Starkville, MS (Sports Network) - Instate rivals collide in Starkville this evening, as the 20th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs play host to the Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC affair at the Humphrey Coliseum.

Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs can't afford to fall any further behind in the SEC standings, as the team comes into this contest at 5-3 in league play, currently fourth in the conference standings. MSU has won three of its last four games, including a thrilling 91-88 shootout against Auburn last weekend.

Andy Kennedy's Rebels are six games over .500 at 14-8, but are even in the SEC at 4-4. Ole Miss has lost two of its last three games, including a heart- breaking 69-67 double-overtime game at Alabama on Saturday.

Although, Mississippi State holds a 138-106 series advantage, it is Ole Miss seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 75-68 win in Oxford on January 18th. The last time Ole Miss swept the season series was in 1998.

Nick Williams led the way with 19 points, including some key baskets down the stretch, but Ole Miss was unable to secure a win in Tuscaloosa, falling to the Crimson Tide by two points in double-overtime. Williams was joined in double figures by forwards Terrance Henry and Reginald Buckner, who finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Fellow forward Murphy Holloway added eight points and nine rebounds to the cause, but could not prevent the team from falling to 4-4 in league play.

The Rebels strong in the frontcourt with Henry, Holloway and Buckner. Henry is a player that can score both inside and out and currently leads the team in scoring at 12.2 ppg. Holloway is strong in the paint, averaging a near double-double with 10.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game (third in the league). Buckner isn't much of a scorer (6.9 ppg) but is a force defensively, grabbing 8.5 rpg and leading the team with 51 blocks. He is the SEC's active leader in blocked shots with 210 in his career (school record). Williams (10.4 ppg) and Jarvis Summers (9.9 ppg) are backcourt complements and complete the starting five.

The Bulldogs enjoy a more balanced attack, with a dominant star down low and plenty of perimeter firepower in the backcourt. Junior forward Arnett Moultrie has been unstoppable this season and is certainly on the short list when talking about candidates for SEC Player of the Year. The 6-11 veteran is averaging a double-double, leading the team in both scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (11.1 rpg). He gets help along the frontline from fellow forward Renardo Sidney (10.2 ppg). Balance comes in the form of guards Dee Bost and Rodney Hood. Bost, a 6-2 senior, is both a prolific scorer (15.8 ppg) and deft distributor (4.7 apg). Hood, a 6-8 freshman, creates mismatches with his size and adds 11.3 ppg to the scoring deluge. Overall, MSU is averaging 73.8 ppg, doing so on a healthy .465 shooting.

Auburn put up a season-high 88 points, but the Bulldogs were more than up to the challenge, posting 91 in a thrilling victory this past weekend. Overall, MSU drained just over 60 percent of its shots in the game, as five Bulldogs finished in double figures. Moultrie was once again strong down low, leading the team with 21 points. Sidney poured in 17 and Bost fiished with 15 points and seven assists. Jalen Steele added 13 points off the bench, while Hood chipped in with 11.

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