In the state of Mississippi, it is a pretty much understood thing that Bulldogs don’t like Rebels and Rebels don’t care for Bulldogs.
That’s just the way it is.
For Mississippi State's Rodney Hood, a Meridian native, he gets the rivalry loud and clear.
“I know people don't like Ole Miss. I don't have anything against them but I know State fans really want this,” said Hood who is the third-leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 11.6 points per game. “I know we don't like them and they don't like us. I'm excited for the game.”
Hood will get his first taste of MSU’s oldest rivalry tonight as the 15-3 Bulldogs travel to Oxford to take on the 11-6 Rebels and in doing so he’ll face one of his more difficult matchups of the season in forward, Terrance Henry.
“It's basketball. I'm going to come out, listen to the scouting report and do my best,” said Hood. “He's a good player but I think I'm ready for the challenge.”
Henry is one of the top rebounders in the SEC with 8.3 rebounds per game and the second-leading scorer for the Rebels with 10.7 points per game.
While he knows his hands will be full with Henry, Hood feels this is a good matchup for State.
“I think we match up really well,” he said. “We're a good rebounding team and they're tall and physical up front, so it's going to be a test but we're ready for it.”
What does Hood expect?
Well, the freshman knows Ole Miss is a well-coached team, leaving him to expect a defensive strategy much like what the Bulldogs faced this season – a slow down, half-court game.
“It's kind of playing into our strengths,” said Hood. “We're a versatile team. We can go, like last game, to Arnett (Moultrie) and we go to Sid (Renardo Sidney) or go to our post guys when they try to slow us down. I think that's what makes us so good. We can go either way.”
Mississippi State stands 2-1 in the early portion of the SEC slate and with the league only having two unbeaten teams, Hood knows the Bulldogs are in the mix which places all the more importance on getting a road win tonight.
“People are getting knocked off every day. It's hard,” Hood stated. “Kentucky is the No. 2 team in the country, and we beat Tennessee, and they go to Tennessee and it's a tough game. There are no easy games. It's just competitive this year.”