What a difference a few weeks makes. Several weeks ago, some impatient fans were lambasting this team for a disappointing loss to Alabama A&M at home. Now, that same team is 2-0 in the SEC and back to .500 on the season, and everyone is back on board the Rick Ray bandwagon. But make no mistake, this team has played hard throughout that entire stretch, win or lose. The difference has been finishing games and executing to go along with the effort. They've been able to add the execution in with the effort as of late, and thus find themselves on a bit of a winning streak.
Tonight, Mississippi State heads back to the Hump to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Crimson Tide come in to Starkville with a 9-6 record, 1-1 in conference play. After taking somewhat of a surprisingly lopsided loss at home to Missouri to open SEC play, they rebounded last weekend with a win over Tennessee to even up their SEC record.
While Mississippi State has returned to full health - well, as full health as they've been for awhile or will be for the rest of the season, Alabama comes into tonight's game without the services of their leading scorer and point guard Trevor Releford. Releford injured his ankle earlier in the week, and is expected to be out for tonight's game.
Can Mississippi State's dangerously thin roster hold on for another 40 minutes? That is what I will be watching for tonight. The last two games have shown what this team can do, but the question of whether or not they can continue to last for a full 40 minutes will continue to come up as the season progresses. Alabama is certainly better than the two teams MSU has opened SEC play with, so tonight will be a true barometer as to how far this team has come since late December.
Now, let's tip, let's chat, and let's play harder than a Rick Stansbury team ever did.
Read full game notes on tonight's matchup via HailState.com right here.