Vanderbilt stumbles at Ole Miss, 85-78

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi guard Stefan Moody smiled in the postgame press conference and would not respond when questioned about the severity and pain from a nagging groin injury.

”I’m not going to answer that,” said the 5-foot-9 Moody, whose quickness and explosiveness are clearly limited. ”I’m just going to let my play speak for itself.”

Moody scored 23 points and ignited a decisive 21-5 run midway through the second half Saturday night as Mississippi defeated Vanderbilt 85-78.

”He’s tough. He was on the floor. He gets knocked around, but he performs,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. ”This was big for us. We really showed some toughness. We made hard plays and I’m really pleased with this team tonight.”

Ole Miss (15-8, 5-5 Southeastern Conference) placed four players in double figures and won for the third time in four starts. Tomasz Gielo scored 16 points, Rasheed Brooks added 15 and Marcanvis Hymon had 13 points for the Rebels.

Luke Kornet led Vanderbilt (13-10, 5-5) with 20 points, including nine in the opening four minutes. Wade Baldwin IV and Nolan Cressler added 19 and 14 points for the Commodores, respectively. Vanderbilt was plagued by foul trouble, accounting for 30 of the 56 personal fouls that slowed the game.

”Outside of a couple of individual performances, we just didn’t play well,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. ”The foul trouble really affected us. With our main guys, we were OK, but we had a lot of talent sitting on the bench with foul trouble tonight.”

Vanderbilt led by as many as 11 points in the first half and 39-37 at halftime. Ole Miss erased a 50-47 deficit with the decisive run and never trailed again. Martavious Newby and Moody converted six consecutive free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal it.

”We knew Vanderbilt wasn’t going away and I think they’ll have a tremendous season,” Kennedy said. ”But we stepped up in adversity and performed well. This win puts us back in the (postseason consideration) game.”

Ole Miss finished 24 of 67 (36 percent) from the field, while Vanderbilt shot 26 of 57 (46 percent). The Rebels had a decisive edge at the free throw line, hitting 27 of 38 (71 percent), while Vanderbilt managed only 17 of 27 (63 percent).

The frustrating loss for the Commodores came on what had been a season-defining turnaround. The Commodores had won five of the previous seven games, including a 77-60 win over No. 8 Texas A&M after starting 0-3 in SEC play.

”I wish I knew why this happened after we were coming off what had been our best performance of the year,” Stallings said. ”If I had an answer for that, I would not be as frustrated as I am now.”

Ole Miss: The Rebels have won five of the last six games with Vanderbilt. …Brooks and Newby had nine rebounds apiece. …Moody leads the SEC in scoring at 23.5 points per game and finished with 23. …Ole Miss has converted 72 3-point shots in the past six games.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores are last in the league forcing only 10.8 turnovers per game and forced 10 against the Rebels. …Forward Damian Jones, who averages 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, played 17 minutes before fouling out, finishing with nine points and two rebounds. …The Commodores had 19 turnovers and were outrebounded 44-41.

Ole Miss won for the third time in four games, despite being limited by injuries that have sidelined three starters over an eight-game period.

Forward Sebastian Saiz has missed the entire stretch recovering from eye surgery.

Guards Newby (eye injury) and Moody (groin) missed significant playing time in four games, but played 28 and 39 minutes, respectively against the Commodores.

Ole Miss visits Florida on Tuesday.

Vanderbilt hosts Missouri on Wednesday.