As Mississippi State ventures outside the confines of Humphrey Coliseum for the first time this season, the St. Louis Billikens await them for a neutral site matchup, Friday night, in the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic. This is only the second ever meeting between the two schools and the first since 1950, which resulted in a 63-46 St. Louis victory.
St. Louis (3-1) coming off three consecutive NCAA berths was picked 9th in the preseason A-10 poll, and is in rebuilding mode having already lost to the Islanders of Texas A&M Corpus-Christi.
If Mississippi State is going to improve to 5-0 they are going to have to shoot better from behind the arc, in their last outing they shot 0%, hitting on none of their seven attempts, and on the season are only connecting on 26% from long range.
Rebounding and second chance opportunities could be critical in determining who will win this game, Mississippi State is 43rd in the country in average rebounding, while St. Louis is 162nd. While free throw shooting has been a strength of the Bulldogs, it has also been a strength of St. Louis with both teams hitting at or above 70%.
With St. Louis struggling to find their shot, hitting on only 38% of their attempts, Mississippi State should be able to grab a large majority of the rebounds and have a good chance at getting to the charity stripe. However, this is the first "away" game for the Bulldogs so I expect some mistakes, but ultimately after a back and forth battle, the Bulldogs' ability to rebound and get to the charity stripe help them pull out the close win.
The winner of this game goes on to face TCU/Bradley on Saturday for the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge Championship.
Keys To The Game: Rebounding, Three Point Shooting
Where to Watch: CBS Sports Network, 8:30CST
Eck's Pick: Mississippi State Victory 63-57