Reggie Perry scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season and 26th of his career as Mississippi State romped past Ole Miss 69-44 on Saturday night in Starkville, Miss., to earn a double-bye as the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs (20-11, 11-7 SEC) hold the tiebreaker over Florida by virtue of their 78-71 win over the Gators in Gainesville on Jan. 28. The Gators fell to 11-7 in SEC play with their loss to Kentucky earlier in the day.
Nick Weatherspoon and Robert Woodard II also were in double figures with 11 points each as the Bulldogs went up 47-25 less than three minutes into the second half and led by double digits the rest of the way. Their biggest lead was 27 points three times in the closing minutes.
Devontae Shuler led the Rebels (15-16, 6-12) with 16 points as Breein Tyree, who came into the game as the second-leading scorer in the SEC with a 20.0 average, finished with just 11.
Ole Miss shot just 29.4 percent from the field, including 2 of 17 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs shot 46.2 percent and were 2 of 10 from behind the arc.
The Rebels had won the first meeting with Mississippi State by 25 points in Oxford but never mounted a serious threat after playing to a 21-21 tie over the first 9 minutes, 40 seconds. A 1-of-14 shooting stretch that carried over from the end of the first half through the first four minutes of the second left them struggling.
The Bulldogs closed out the first half on an 18-4 run to take a 39-25 lead into the halftime break. Perry had 18 points and six rebounds in playing 17 minutes of the period to lead the Bulldogs, and Weatherspoon had three steals as the Bulldogs forced the Rebels into eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
The SEC tourney starts Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn., with Ole Miss taking on Georgia in the opener. Mississippi State plays Friday afternoon against an opponent to be determined.
--Field Level Media