No. 18 Mississippi St. falls to Mississippi, 75-68

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 29, 2011
Mississippi State's won a lot of games and built quite a resume so far this season. One of the few blemishes is the lack of a Southeastern Conference road victory. The 18th-ranked Bulldogs came up empty once again Wednesday night, losing 75-68 to rival Mississippi at Tad Smith Coliseum. Mississippi's Reginald Buckner scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a surprising offensive display as the Rebels snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. ''It just comes down to toughness,'' Mississippi State's Rodney Hood said. ''We haven't been playing our type of basketball on the road. We have to play with toughness, we have to get stops consecutively, they've been getting baskets too easy on us and it's something we have to work on.'' Buckner's career has been built on defense, but Mississippi's career blocked shots leader came through on offense this time, shooting 8 of 10 from the field as the Rebels shot 50 percent (27 of 54) as a team. ''He was tremendous,'' Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. ''Obviously the difference in the game.'' Nick Williams added 17 points, Jarvis Summers had 12 and Ole Miss (12-6, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) beat its in-state rival for the first time since 2009. Renardo Sidney led Mississippi State (15-4, 2-2) with 17 points while shooting 6 of 12 from the field. Arnett Moultrie had his ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds. ''We just never got over the hump, we were playing uphill all the way,'' Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. ''We were within three with two minutes to go and had four or five empty possessions. Last year, they attempted five free throws - this year it was 30.'' Sidney and Moultrie have formed a dynamic frontcourt for most of the season, but Buckner nearly beat the pair by himself, adding three blocked shots to his out-of-character offensive totals. ''We made a statement and we're back in the race,'' Buckner said. ''The good start was the key. We beat a really good team tonight.'' Buckner has always been a little robotic on the offensive end, which is the main reason he averages just 5.9 points. That's why it was so surprising to see him scoring in bunches against the Bulldogs - not only on put-back dunks but also an array of short jumpers that aren't usually in his repertoire. Ole Miss' Demarco Cox also helped the Rebels with arguably the best game of his career. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench, filling in admirably for starter Murphy Holloway, who was stuck in foul trouble for much of the game and finished with five points and seven rebounds. It was a much-needed win for the Rebels, who lost in double overtime to Auburn on Saturday. ''This was important on a number of fronts,'' Kennedy said. ''But the most being, if you have any chance at remaining competitive in this league, you've got to defend your home floor.'' Ole Miss never trailed in the second half. Mississippi State managed to cut the lead to 63-60 with 2:21 remaining on Sidney's layup, but could get no closer. Stansbury has been dominant against his in-state rival for more than a decade, winning 20 of 27. But the Rebels set the tempo from the outset, and the Bulldogs never seemed comfortable. They shot 23 of 61 (37.7 percent) from the field. Ole Miss jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the opening minutes, riding a pair of 3-pointers by Summers. Mississippi State fought back to briefly take the lead, but the Rebels pushed right back for a 38-33 halftime lead because of the superior post play. Buckner had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and also grabbed six rebounds in the first half, negating the loss Holloway, who earned two fouls in the opening minutes. Ole Miss won despite shooting just 17 of 30 (56.7 percent) from the free-throw line. Mississippi State's Dee Bost scored 15 points, but was 4 of 15 from the field. The shorter Bost was hounded by 6-foot-9 Terrance Henry on the perimeter for much of the game, forcing the Bulldogs' point guard into some tough shots. Henry also added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. --- Follow David Brandt on Twitter: (at)davidbrandtAP
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