Another poor first half outing, another poor shooting night, and another game with poor execution in the closing minutes led to the fifth loss in a row for Coach Rick Ray and the Bulldogs.
This game featured another of Coach Ray's starting lineup changes, the third in a row, but the change failed to produce any semblance of chemistry, scoring only 15 points in the first half. Despite the poor start to the game, the contest was never out of reach for MSU. The Bulldogs actually took a 49-48 lead late in the game and tied the game back up with 17 seconds to go, but poor defense in the closing seconds doomed MSU.
The team has continued to regress on offense as the season has progressed, shooting below 40% for the fifth straight game. The first five games of the season Mississippi State averaged 72 points a contest and held their opponents to an average of 57 points. Unfortunately, in their last five games the Bulldogs have only averaged 52 points a game compared to their opponents 60 points per game. You could make an argument that TCU and Oregon State were forgivable losses but Arkansas St? USC-Upstate? Something has changed since the victory over St. Louis and Coach Ray is going to have to find answers, especially on the offensive side of the ball before he finds himself without a job.
A thorn in the side of Mississippi State has been their dismal performance from behind the arc. The three point shooting woes only seemed to worsen in the loss to USC-Upstate, as State only hit on one of their seventeen attempts. The most frustrating aspect of this Mississippi State team has been their insistence on taking unwise shots. When you know your strength is on the inside you do not take seventeen three point shots!! Yet, this is exactly what Mississippi State did today and they came away shooting 6% from long range (not a winning combination).
At this point in the season Coach Ray has to make sure the kids do not give up on the him or the team. The staff and the players have to forget about the loss and the losing streak and focus solely on the next game. Awaiting the Bulldogs in their next game is 4-9 Jacksonville squad, but despite the record the Bulldogs will have to come out with intensity because the last thing this team can afford to do is underestimate or overlook any more of their opponents.
Next Up: Jacksonville @ The Hump - December 23rd, 7 CST