MSU Holds Off Ole Miss 61-59

Marckell Patterson looked to the bench expecting to see his coach calling for a timeout. Instead, Rick Stansbury gave his senior guard the opportunity to win the game in the final seconds and he came through. Patterson made two free throws with 6.7 seconds left to give Mississippi State a 61-59 victory over Mississippi on Saturday. Jason Harrison hit a 12-foot jumper from the baseline for Ole Miss with 28 seconds left to tie the game at 59. Stansbury said he didn't want to stop the clock and let the Rebels set their defense, so he let Patterson try to make a play. ``I made the decision,'' Stansbury said. ``If it doesn't work it's a bad decision. If it works it's a good decision.'' After dribbling the clock down to about 10 seconds, the 6-foot-5 guard drove left, shot a fadeaway from about 10 feet over David Sanders and drew the foul. ``I saw an opening and I just took it, thinking I was going to get fouled or be able to make the shot,'' Patterson said. ``At the end, I realized it was going to be a tough shot so I just tried to make contact.'' Sanders didn't think much of the call. ``For one he was fading away. Two, he jumped and I didn't. I just say put two and two together,'' Sanders said. ``I got clobbered,'' Patterson said with a smirk. The Rebels (19-8, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) got Aaron Harper, their top long-distance shooter, an open 3-point shot from the top of the circle with time winding down, but he hit the back of the rim and the buzzer went off. Harper waved his arms in frustration after missing the open look. ``Coach drew up a perfect play. I was surprised no one switched to me,'' said Harper, who was 4-for-7 from 3-point range. ``I got a good look. I took my time. I just missed.'' The Bulldogs (21-7, 8-6) won their third straight and beat Ole Miss in Starkville for the fourth straight time. Harper and Sanders each had 14 points, and Justin Reed had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Ole Miss.

Mario Austin scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half for Mississippi State and Michael Ignerski scored 11. The in-state rivals are tied for second place in the SEC West. Alabama clinched the conference title by beating Florida on Saturday. The teams split two close games this season. The Rebels won the first meeting in January 66-59 in Oxford. A record crowd of 10,645 packed Humphrey Coliseum to watch two teams that appear to be on their way to the NCAA tournament. The fans were loud and energetic and the play matched the electric atmosphere. As always when the Bulldogs and Rebels get together, there was plenty of bumping in the paint and scrambling after loose balls. The physical play made the final foul call on Sanders even more questionable to Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes. ``From my angle, all the bumping, fighting, scratching and clawing that had been going on the whole game, that's a weak call,'' Barnes said. ``But it might have been right, I'm not going to say that it wasn't.'' After 30 minutes of crisp, up-tempo play, the game bogged down in the final 10 minutes with baskets tough to come by for both teams. Derrick Allen's jumper with 1:34 left pulled Ole Miss to within 59-57 and snapped the Rebels' eight-minute field-goal drought. Sanders scored all of his points in the first half including a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that gave Ole Miss a 36-30 halftime lead. After shooting 5-for-7 in the first half, Sanders was 0-for-4 in the second.