It was a classic matchup of strength versus strength. The #15 ole miss rebels (15-2) entered the game boasting the 8th-best offense in the nation, averaging 84.9 points per game, while unranked Mississippi State (13-5) owned the country's 2nd-best field-goal percentage defense.
Fitting, maybe, that polar-oppisite teams had thusfar polar-opposite seasons. MSU struggled early but was undefeated in SEC play, while ole miss went undefeated out of conference but sat at 2-2 against SEC competition. The Bulldogs needed a statement win, while the rebels were trying to stay afloat in the SEC.
A crowd of 10,421 gathered for the 4:00 tipoff, the 9th-largest crowd in Humphrey Coliseum history.
The first half started off tight, with several ties and lead changes. The Bulldogs got the better of the rebels in the paint, and forced foul trouble upon ole miss big-men Kenny Williams and Dwayne Curtis. By the midway point of the period, both were sidelined with two fouls.
It was then that State went on a 6-0 run that proved to be the main difference in an otherwise-even first half. State held a seven point halftime advantage at 38-31.
In the second half, Mississippi State’s defense gradually slowed ole miss's offense. It's hard to pinpoint an exact stretch when the Bulldogs ran away. At half, we were up 7. Five minutes later, it was 10. Five minutes after that, we were up 14. Another five minutes, and we were up 17. At the end, it was 20.
While there was no decisive run that put the rebels away, there certainly was an exclamation point. And if you were there, you’d be hard-pressed to forget this one.
With 3:09 left and MSU up 81-62, Jamont Gordon walked down the court after a rebound. I wouldn't say that Gordon was dribbling, but rather pounding the ball between his legs with an obvious swagger. You knew something was about to happen.
At halfcourt, Gordon gave two fakes and paused before exploding past his defender, headed to the lane.
Under the basket, Rhodes wasn’t even paying attention. His head was turned completely away from the play, seemingly chatting with either the referee or someone in the crowd.
Gordon sprinted over the 3-point line, his defender beat, just as Rhodes peeked up to see what was happening. When Rhodes’ defender switched to help in the lane, Gordon peeled right and dished a no-look, over-his-shoulder dime to a charging Rhodes who was wide open for the baseline dunk.
The Hump ERUPTED. Announcers called it the "no-look helicopter," and the play received #1 honors on ESPN’s nightly Top Plays segment.
Stansbury immediately called a timeout, and Rhodes and Gordon (aka "Bread and Butter") relished in the moment. Chest bumps all-around, and the patented slap-slap-salute capped off the highlight.
State went on to win 88-68 and eventually claimed the SEC West Title at 12-4, finishing second in the conference behind 14-2 Tennessee.
That was a FUN FREAKIN' DAY at The Hump, man. And what a way to shut up the ole miss fans who thought they finally had a basketball team better than ours.
But that’s enough talk. Here’s the video.