Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


110 years of history tell us why State is favored over Ole Miss tonight

The home team usually wins in the Ole Miss-Mississippi State basketball series, but in 2019, Ole’ Miss guard, Breein Tyree (4), shown here driving past Mississippi State guard, Nick Weatherspoon (0), helped Ole Miss to an 81-77 victory at Starkville. Credit: Kevin Langley/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

The Ole Miss-Mississippi State basketball rivalry, 110 years old this month, will be renewed tonight at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.

If history tells us anything, it is that the home team has a massive advantage. You could look it up. 

Rick Cleveland

In fact, I did. The 96 miles that separate Oxford and Starkville make a huge difference.

When Ole Miss plays in Starkville, State wins 78% of the time. When State plays at Oxford, Ole Miss wins 65% of the time. Overall, State leads the series, having won 149 of the 269 previous meetings.

Ole Miss won this year’s first meeting, 86-82, on Jan. 30 at Oxford.

But the home team advantage dates all the way back to 1914.

On Feb. 26, 1914, the two teams played for the first time at Starkville. If the final score is any indication, Ole Miss played as if the university boys had never seen a basketball before.


State won 68-15. They played again the next night, again at Starkville. It was even worse. State won 84-18. It was as if Ole Miss had to shoot at a moving basket.

Interestingly, both teams traveled from Starkville to Oxford the next day to play for a third consecutive day. The Jackson Daily News published a report in its Jan. 28, 1914, edition. After winning by an average of of about 60 points a game the two previous nights, State won by a tiny 12-10 margin at Oxford.

The Daily News recap began this way: “Twelve to ten, nobody killed or seriously hurt, and all the players able to join the rah, rah, rah, rah, at the final sound of the referee’s whistle, tells the tale of the final game between Ole Miss and A & M for the state championship giving the Aggies the seat of honor…”

Ole Miss was much more competitive at Oxford. The score was tied 4-4 at halftime and Ole Miss took an 8-4 lead in the second half “which looked like it would be the final score for the longest time,” the Daily News reported.

The Aggies rallied for a 10-8 lead but then Frank Smythe of Ole Miss “threw in a goal from a difficult angle” to tie the score. State won it on a basket by Clark. The winning basket did not even earn Clark a first name in the next day’s newspaper.

Turns out, it wasn’t the last game of the season. They played again the next night. State won again 20-8 for a four-game season sweep.

The A & M Aggies would go on to win the first nine games of the series. Ole Miss did not win until Feb. 27, 1917, when the Oxford boys prevailed 29-15.

State dominated the early years of the series, winning 16 of the first 18 times the two played. Interestingly enough, in 1919, future Mississippi State athletic director Dudy Noble was the head coach at Ole Miss. The two teams played three times and State won all three, which might have been part of the reason why Noble years later told a sports writer, “I know what hell is like. I once coached at Ole Miss.”

Things have been much more competitive in recent years. Since 2008, the two are tied with 16 victories each.

Ole Miss-Mississippi State games always carry special import. Tonight’s could prove especially important. Both teams are on the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble, and both need to pad their postseason resume.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi – for my money, the best in the business – has Mississippi State in the tournament as a 10-seed. The Bulldogs can ill afford any slip-ups. Neither can Ole Miss, which Lunardi has as the very last team in the field.

State (17-8) has a No. 26 RPI, two spots ahead of Ole Miss (19-6). The two teams are tied for seventh place in the SEC standings with 6-6 records.

State is a 6.5-point favorite tonight, which figures. Home court advantage, don’t you know?


Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles