Bulldogs, Rebels set to dance
By By Jeff Byrd / sports editor
March 14, 2003
NEW ORLEANS Ole Miss and Mississippi State have tangled 226 times on the basketball court. Yet never has there been a meeting in the Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament.
That fact changes today when the Rebels, fresh off their 62-56 win over South Carolina, will meet the Bulldogs at noon at the Louisiana Superdome.
Ole Miss improved to 14-14 with its tough, hard-nosed win against the Gamecocks. Mississippi State is 19-8 and has not played since clinching the SEC West title on Saturday with a 67-45 thumping of Auburn.
Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes, who picked up his 100th coaching victory in the South Carolina win, said his focus is not on what could be termed a historic occasion, but rather matter-of-factly survival.
Mississippi State won both regular season meetings between the two teams.
The Bulldogs won 58-57 in Oxford, and the squad from Starkville needed overtime to pull out a 68-64 decision at home. Overall, State leads the series 125-101.
Ole Miss postman Derrick Allen is looking forward to going against All-SEC postman Mario Austin for a third time. Allen grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds in the win over South Carolina.
stretch," said Ole Miss guard David Sanders.
Sanders hit a key shot late against Carolina to put Ole Miss up 57-54, with 1:18 to go in the game.
Ole Miss was led Thursday by Justin Reed who tossed in 22 points. He made 6-of-12 shots from the field and was a perfect 8-of-8 from
As a team, Ole Miss shot 90 percent from the line making 18-of-20.
State is an average free-throw shooting team at 67 percent. Ole Miss is five points better at 72 percent.
Still, the Bulldogs come in confident following one of their best games of the season with the title-winning effort against Auburn.
MSU is also the best defensive team in the SEC holding opponents to just 39.6 percent shooting.
Austin, the 6-foot-9 junior, was named first-team All-SEC for the second straight year. He leads MSU with 15.6 points and 7.8
The Bulldogs' backcourt is keyed by Derrick Zimmerman (8.8 ppg) and third-team All-SEC guard Timmy Bowers (14.5 ppg). Michal Ignerski (9.5 ppg.) and Ontario Harper (7.6 ppg.) round out the starters.