Ole Miss' Davis steps back onto soil of alma mater looking to defeat MSU

Kermit Davis

Staff Writer

Mississippi State may be his alma mater, but Saturday, that fact won't keep him from wanting to win a basketball game.

Kermit Davis played for the Bulldogs in 1982, graduated from MSU the same year and finished with a master's degree in Starkville two years later.

Now he is the men's basketball coach of the Ole Miss Rebels and now he wants to beat State.

It will be interesting to see how Davis is received at noon Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum when Davis coaches against the Bulldogs for the first time as a Rebel.

While his father Kermit Davis Sr. was head coach of the Bulldogs from 1971-77, obviously there was time for relationships to be established.

"I haven't been back there in a long time," Davis said after Wednesday's 82-67 over Auburn. "I have a lot of pals that will be there and I said it at my press conference and I will say it again, nobody at Humphrey Coliseum will want to beat Mississippi State more than Kermit Davis. I promise you that."

Davis was hired at Ole Miss on March 15, 2018, after becoming the winningest coach in Middle Tennessee history

The Mississippi native from Leakesville helped the Blue Raiders to conference championships in seven of his last nine years in Mufreesboro during their time in the Sun Belt and Conference USA.

Davis, who is an eight-time conference coach of the year, stands 31st among active Division I head coaches with 481. Along with Middle Tennessee, he has coached at Idaho and Texas A&M.

"He was Tim Floyd's assistant back in the days they were at Idaho so I've known Kermit a little bit since then," Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said Friday. "We've been friendly, especially since I've been at Mississippi State because his dad is a great guy. There are plenty of connections there."

The Rebels are off to a good start under Davis this season.

After the win over Auburn, Davis became just the second coach in Ole Miss history to win 12 of his first 14 games with the Rebels. Former Ole Miss coach Homer Hazel (1926-30) won 20 of his first 22 games over two seasons.

"I'm not surprised that Kermit has turned things around this quickly because he's got a good team," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said on Wednesday.