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Mississippi State, Ole Miss men’s basketball teams respond with big conference wins

Ole Miss basketball
Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

It was a big night for both Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the two programs’ pursuit to get on the winning side of the scoreboard against conference foes.

After opening its first round of SEC action in a heartbreaking loss at South Carolina, the Bulldogs (12-3, 1-1 SEC) welcomed No. 5 Tennessee to Humphrey Coliseum for a midweek showdown.

The Rebels (14-1, 1-1 SEC), also returned home after Saturday’s 90-64 loss at Tennessee to take on a Florida Gators program led by a young, up-and-coming head coach in Todd Golden.

Here’s how the games played out for both teams:

Mississippi State 77, No. 5 Tennessee 72

Freshman standout Josh Hubbard and veteran Bulldog staple Tolu Smith combined for 48 points to lead Mississippi State to its first win over a top-five opponent since 2003 and even up its record in conference play.

Tennessee took a 3-0 lead, but the Bulldogs countered and never looked back. Sparked by a high-volume night for Hubbard beyond the arc, MSU led by as many as 15 points and found themselves with a 35-22 lead at halftime.

The Volunteers clawed back with senior forward Dalton Knecht hitting just about every shot he took from behind the three-point line. A double-digit Bulldog lead was minimized to single digits at the 15:36 mark of the second half and was erased completely when the Vols tied things up with 5:17 remaining.

Nonetheless, Chris Jans’ group displayed toughness on the court and never allowed Tennessee to flip the scoreboard. The last five minutes of play were a slugfest between the two SEC squads, but the home-court advantage paired with Hubbrard’s hot hand carried Mississippi State to a 77-72 win.

MSU will continue conference action at home against Alabama on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Ole Miss 103, Florida 85

The Rebels responded, in grand fashion, to Saturday’s demoralizing loss with a beatdown of their own. First-year head coach Chris Beard’s team eclipsed triple digits for the first time in the history of the John and Sandy Black Pavilion during Wednesday’s 103-85 win over Florida.

The game opened up with both teams exchanging blows. Florida jumped off to a 17-14 lead, but the Rebels went on a 12-3 run to overtake the Gators and never looked back.

While Florida cut into the Rebels’ first-half lead to only trail 44-40 at the intermission, a strong Ole Miss performance in the last 20 minutes of play would ultimately prove too much for the Gators to handle.

The Rebels, in the second half, shot 75% from the floor while holding Florida to a 38.6% feat — largely due to a record-breaking nine-block night from 7-foot-5 center Jamarion Sharp.

Returning veterans Matthew Murrell and Jaemyn Brakefield accounted for 51 of the team’s points in the dominant win over the Gators.

Next up for Ole Miss is a home SEC battle against Vanderbilt. That game will tip off at noon.

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