In a night where a lot of things went wrong for Mississippi State, Roquez Johnson and the bench of Mississippi State came through for a brilliant performance contributing a season high 40 points. Unfortunately, the great performance from the bench will be overshadowed by the poor performance from the starters who contributed only 15 points by hitting on only 5 of their 29 field goal attempts.
The problem for the Bulldogs remains the team's inability to find their shot, shooting just 32% for the game and 17.6% from behind the arc. The team was also out rebounded for the fourth game in a row, which led to the Bulldogs getting to the line only twelve times. On the other side of the court, Arkansas State, a team that shot for just 43 percent in a loss to Toledo, came out hot against MSU and never cooled off, shooting for better than 52% percent in the game.
This is a tough one to swallow for Bulldog fans. Arkansas State has not been a good team this year, yet came into the Hump and handled the game from the opening tip to the final whistle. This is the third year in Coach Ray's tenure at Mississippi State and many State fans were hoping for some more tangible signs of improvement. However, this is a team that was picked dead last in the SEC in the preseason media poll, so expectations from the fan base should not have been sky high. There will also be factions of every fan base that expect instant success anytime a coach is hired, but the fact is Coach Ray is in the middle of an extensive rebuilding job. The makeup of this team is nearly identical to the one that lost thirteen straight SEC contests last season, so I think it is best for Bulldog fans to be patient and take a wait and see approach to see how this team evolves this season, before calling for Coach Ray's job.
Mississippi State (5-4) now heads to Jackson to play a "neutral site" home game against a tough USC-Upstate squad. The Spartans already have an upset win over Georgia Tech and played tough against a ranked Maryland squad, so expect a tough battle in Jackson this Saturday.
Next Game: USC Upstate, Saturday- 3 PM CST