STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – At some point, the streak was going to end. And for Mississippi State, it couldn’t have come to a halt in a more sweeter fashion.
Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at Humphrey Coliseum, the Bulldogs ended their 13-game losing streak by turning back arch-rival Ole Miss, 73-67.
The victory avenged a 93-75 setback to the Rebels in Oxford back in January.
“I’m just so proud for my guys,” said MSU coach Rick Ray, who earned his first victory in this heated rivalry. “They’ve worked so hard all year, even with the losing, and now they have something to show for their effort.”
The first half consisted of a series of runs.
Ole Miss (21-8, 10-6 SEC) jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a dunk by Murphy Holloway, who had a game-high 22 points to go along with his 19 rebounds. However, MSU (8-20, 3-13 SEC) answered and took its first lead of the game at 7-5 on a 3-pointer by Colin Borchert, who paced his team with a career-high 21 points.
The lead changed five times in the first 20 minutes, but with 2 minutes remaining until intermission, Borchert drained another trey for a 31-29 advantage, one the Bulldogs never relinquished.
At the break, MSU led 34-30.
“Hopefully, this is the type of game you can build off,” Ray said.
In the second half, the Bulldogs quickly built the lead to 7 on a 3-pointer by Craig Sword, but a dunk by Holloway closed the gap to 39-36 with 17:04 to play. From there, MSU orchestrated a 6-0 run and swelled the lead to 45-36 on a layup by Borchert.
But Ole Miss wouldn’t go down quietly.
The Rebels slowly chipped away at the lead and pulled within 2 at 45-43 on a jumper by Jarvis Summers. But that would be as closed as Ole Miss would get.
From that point, the Bulldogs increased the lead to 61-49 on an inside shot by Jalen Steele. The key then became free throws. And in the final 3 minutes, Mississippi State was able to secure the victory by connecting on 10 of its 12 attempts at the charity stripe.
For the game, MSU was 27 of 37 at the free throw line, 20-of-48 shooting overall. In addition to Borchert’s 21-point effort, Gavin Ware had 12 points, followed by Steele and Roquez Johnson with 10 each. Sword also dished out a career-best 9 assists.
Ole Miss was 11 of 16 at the foul line, 25 of 74 from the field. The only other player in double digits was Marshall Henderson with 16 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
Mississippi State returns to action Wednesday at South Carolina, a 6 p.m. The Rebels have a home game against Alabama and a road game at LSU remaining.