Mississippi State and Ole Miss both battled their way to significant victories Saturday.
They will face each other Tuesday at Oxford, Miss., with an opportunity for the winner to further strengthen its position from the middle of the pack in the tightly-bunched SEC.
The Bulldogs (14-6, 3-4 SEC) have won two games against top-10 teams in their last six after a 64-58 home victory against No. 8 Auburn on Saturday in which neither team led by more than six points.
They had allowed an average of 83.7 points in their last three conference losses, but held the Tigers to 33.9 percent field-goal shooting and 25.0 percent 3-point shooting while enjoying a 45-30 rebounding edge.
“I know it isn’t always aesthetically pleasing for everybody, but you get into conference games against good teams, and you’ve got to slow it down a little bit and it becomes somewhat of a rock fight,” Mississippi State coach Chris Jans said. “That was a classic rock fight.”
Jans inserted standout freshman guard Josh Hubbard, who was averaging 14.9 points per game, into the starting lineup for the first time this season and Hubbard scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half.
“Sold-out crowds and playing in those types of environments is definitely fun,” Hubbard said.
There will be a similar environment Tuesday as the Rebels (17-3, 4-3) return home where they are 12-0. They will bring with them the momentum from their first SEC road victory — 71-68 at Texas A&M on Saturday.
Ole Miss, which allowed an average of 87.0 points in losing its first three conference road games, held the Aggies to 39.7 percent field-goal shooting in what coach Chris Beard said was “not really a stat-sheet game for us.”
“The one stat that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is heart and poise and togetherness and just fight,” Beard said. “It’s just, every possession, you go out there and fight and scrap.”
Ole Miss showed its defensive potential in a 77-51 victory over visiting Arkansas on Wednesday, when the Razorbacks were held to 33.3-percent shooting.
–Field Level Media
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