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Ole Miss stumbles against Mississippi State, 66-56, snapping four-game win streak

What? Why? How?

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss couldn’t find any answers on offense and dropped an important home game to Mississippi State on Saturday, 66-56.

Devontae Shuler was held to only four points on a bad shooting night for the Rebels (12-9, 7-7 SEC) making only 38 percent from the field. The Bulldogs (12-11, 6-8 SEC) shot over 50 percent meanwhile and won the rebounding margin in the rivalry to avenge an earlier loss to the Rebels in Starkville.

KJ Buffen led the Rebels in scoring with 13 points while Jarkel Joiner chipped in eight points of his own. Ole Miss clearly has major issues offensively if Shuler, Joiner or transfer forward Romello White (six points vs State) can’t get their game going.

Iverson Molinar scored 17 points to lead MSU, and DJ Stewart Jr. added 16 points despite going 0-4 from three point range.

The loss stymied a lot of momentum for a Rebel program that had won its last four games and played its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. Saturday’s loss caused the Ole Miss NET ranking to fall from 55 to 60, which clearly has the squad on the outside looking in with three games to play.

For Ole Miss to conceivably get into the tournament, the odds just became much longer. A road trip to Missouri is next, followed by a scrappy Vanderbilt team, and a season finale against a Kentucky squad who just topped Top-25 Tennessee in Knoxville.

Right now, I don’t see how Ole Miss can cobble together a trip to March Madness without winning out or making a very deep run in the SEC Basketball Tournament. If the Rebels miss the postseason, there will be some considerable pressure added to next season on third year head coach Kermit Davis who showed an ability to win in year one, had a train wreck sub .500 year two, and now an uneven bubble year in his third season.

Expectations for a NCAA tournament bid every two to three years is about where I think Rebel fans sit currently as Davis is rebuilding the program his way. The season isn’t over just yet though, so what remains to be seen is how this revamped roster reacts when it’s win or go home.