No. 20 Mississippi State heard the chatter, they saw this signs and they listened to the opposition.
It was personal for the Bulldogs on Thursday night as they avenged their 75-68 loss in Oxford by defeating Ole Miss 70-60 in front of the school’s 12th largest crowd.
“It was personal, but I just like the atmosphere of the rivalry,” said Arnett Moultrie who lead all scorers with 18 points.
“(Moultrie) was called a 'UTEP reject.' I heard 'overrated,' just about anything you could imagine,” said MSU senior point guard Dee Bost.
The Bulldogs (19-5, 6-3) took the previous loss personal because they knew they didn’t play their best basketball and that fact gave them the motivation they needed to play as a team in the rematch.
“It was just a great team effort,” said State’s 14-year head coach Rick Stansbury. “Everybody was a part of it, different guys at different times. Hood got us going early and Dee did a great job all night long controlling the flow.”
Renardo Sidney got the Bulldogs going when he opened the game with a dunk, sparking their 8-0 run to open the game.
The defensive emotion was the key for the Bulldogs as they held the Rebels (14-9, 4-5) leading scorer in SEC play, Nick Williams, scoreless for the evening. Williams was 0 for 6 from the floor and was a non-factor in the game.
Terrance Henry who is the second leading offensive threat for Ole Miss was limited to just six points on the night as well.
"I was proud of the way our kids came out and played from the get go," Stansbury said. "I thought we were focused. I thought defensively we had our edge. I thought defensively we did a great job helping each other. When you can hold their leading scorer to no points, Henry, who is a big factor for them, he goes 2-for-9 with six points. He was a non-factor. For the most part, I never thought they got into a rhythm for what they wanted to do.”
Bost dished out 13 assists, the highest such total in the SEC this season, and of those assists Moultrie was the most thankful.
“(Thursday night) was probably the most I’ve been open all year," Moultrie said. "I applaud the guards tonight for making me look good. They should have started to box me out but they didn’t. That’s what I expected them to do but I just kept sneaking behind them and pointing my finger up for the lob.”
Bost also added 15 points to the point total for the Bulldogs continuing his solid play of late.
“I had a stretch where I played bad for five games, shot it bad,” Bost said. “Lately I’ve been better with my shot selection. When we do that, we win so I’m just trying to be a point guard and get everybody the ball.”
Perhaps the x-factor for Mississippi State in the win was the play of Sidney in the post. The big man gave MSU 14 points and seven rebounds, and while those numbers aren’t staggering, they are just what he head coach was looking for.
“I thought Sid’s overall game, it was his most complete game from an effort standpoint,” said Stansbury. “He was very productive for us tonight in the 27 minutes he played.”
State will quickly put this win behind it and move on to face the next challenge.
“It was a good team win,” said Stansbury. “Now we’ve got to get back together for a quick turnaround on Saturday in here with Georgia.”
State’s final game of their current three-game homestand is set for a 12:30 p.m. tip in the Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.