The Hard-Boiled Egg Bowl
Who: Ole Miss Rebels (17-8, 8-4) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-13, 5-7)
Where to Watch: ESPN2
When to Watch: February 19, 8 PM CST
Mississippi State plays host to rival Ole Miss this Thursday in the 252nd meeting of the oldest rivalry in the SEC. The Bulldogs will be looking to snap a three game losing streak to Ole Miss as well as help put a dent in Rebels NCAA Tournament resume. The two archrivals have already faced off once this season with Ole Miss pulling out the comeback win over the Bulldogs back in late January, 79-73.
Last time out for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs survived a furious rally by Missouri to pick up their third conference road win of the season, 77-74. MSU raced out of the gates against Mizzou and looked like a force to be reckoned with for most of the contest. Some ill-advised shots, turnovers and conservative play by the Bulldogs allowed the Tigers back in the game late but superb play by Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword sealed the win for the Bulldogs. Johnson and Sword, the heroes of the contest, scored 22 points a piece and scored the final 20 points of the ballgame for the Bulldogs. If MSU could get that kind of contribution from them on a weekly basis the team would be crushing their opponents.
Ole Miss is coming off a home loss to Arkansas that snapped a six game winning streak for the Rebels. A trip to the NCAA tournament is still on the line for Ole Miss and the Rebels can ill afford a loss to a "bottom-tier" SEC squad. Ole Miss star Stefan Moody has continued to improve as the season has progressed and has scored in double figures in the Rebels last six contests. The Rebels offense continues to guide them on a path to the NCAA Tournament but their struggles on defense may prevent Ole Miss from making it too far come March.
Mississippi State can beat Ole Miss. MSU fans watched a 13 point lead slip away from the Bulldogs the last time these two teams met but it is easy to see that both of these teams have improved dramatically since that game. Mississippi State has become powerful on defense while the Rebels have become a juggernaut on offense. Which will matter more in The Hump this Thursday? The Bulldogs are looking for revenge, they know they should have beaten the Rebels back in January and will look to be aggressive from the start. Craig Sword will be hoping to top his 27 point performance in the last meeting and with a bigger contribution from Roquez Johnson the Bulldogs will pull out the home win against Ole Miss this Thursday.
Prediction: Mississippi State 79-73
Dawg Facts: The five wins obtained in conference this season by Rick Ray is the most he has won in a season since his arrival.