By DANNY P. SMITH
Any basketball coach who has lost five-straight games in the series between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels has a reason to scratch their head.
It's kind of like what Andy Kennedy did during the postgame press conference on Saturday.
Once again in the rivalry, coach Rick Stansbury successfully out-coached and one of his teams out-played the Rebels.
MSU made it look fairly easy in the second half by out-scoring Ole Miss 38-25 and won a 71-58 decision at Humphrey Coliseum.
With the victory, the Bulldogs swept the Rebels for the second-consecutive season and a Stansbury-coached squad has swept Ole Miss six times.
Stansbury, who improved his career record to 20-7 against the Rebels, has a 12-1 mark at home against them.
"It's important to defend the home court and it's always special to beat Ole Miss," Stansbury said.
After two tough losses, MSU was able to put together the type of effort it needed for a big Southeastern Conference victory.
The Bulldogs let leads slip away at Auburn and Kentucky, but took care of business against Ole Miss in the second half.
"It's one of those games that brings the best out of you," MSU senior guard Riley Benock said. "It's just one of those games you were up for. You don't worry about the effort, you just go out and play. We were able to execute and come away with the win."
MSU evened its conference record at 6-6 and remained second in the Western Division standings. At 14-12 overall, the door is still open for the Bulldogs to get a postseason opportunity.
Where does this leave Kennedy's Rebels?
Ole Miss slipped to 17-10 overall and 5-7 in the league.
The Rebels never really had any punch on offense Saturday and even though Chris Warren had 13 points, he wasn't a factor in the game.
Kennedy may be the fastest coach in Ole Miss history to have gotten the Rebels to 100 wins, but he didn't have any answers following another loss to MSU.
"This team is capable, but terribly inconsistent," Kennedy said. "My hope is that will change."
There was another individual with no answers on Saturday, but only because he wasn't taking any questions.
After producing 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs, sophomore forward Renardo Sidney was once again not made available to the media.
Sidney was allowed to speak to the SEC Television Network after his performance, but he wasn't brought into the media room so other newspapers and television reporters, including the hometown Starkville Daily News, could get a reaction from him following the game.
It's unfair for our beat writer Matthew Stevens or any other reporter in this state to be shut off from Sidney in such a way. It's a real disservice to our readers. You should be able to see comments from Sidney in print about how he played in the game. Stevens was able to use a quote from Sidney from the SEC Television interview, but he shouldn't have had to settle for that.
It's Stansbury's belief that Sidney doesn't want to talk to the media right now and can't win in that type of setting.
"When I believe he's mature enough and can handle talking with you, then he'll talk," Stansbury said.
It's a situation where Stansbury and athletic director Scott Stricklin are trying to protect a kid from saying or doing something wrong and making the program look bad again.
Sidney has taken a beating from the national media with everything from the fight in Hawaii to his play on the court at times.
To my knowledge, the Starkville Daily News hasn't taken any kind of negative stance on Sidney.
Unfortunately the fight in Hawaii happened and we had to print the facts, but the SDN hasn't went out of its way to make him look bad in the public eye.
To Sidney's credit, he has been minding his p's and q's for the last couple of months. His play on the court seems to be improving as well.
A chance to talk with Sidney, especially after having a double-double against an arch rival, would have been appreciated.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.