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Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt: Preview and Open Thread

The Mississippi State Bulldogs sit one game below .500 in the SEC. Can a road trip to Vanderbilt put the Bulldogs back level in conference play?

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State Bulldogs head to Nashville with hopes of picking up their first road victory in over a year and avoiding the disaster that struck the last time the team faced the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Who: Mississippi State (13-7, 3-4) at Vanderbilt (11-8,3-4) (Anchor Of Gold)

Where: Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tennessee

Time: 4:05 PM CT

Television: FSN (find your FSN channel) and ESPN3 (however, states in SEC country will be blacked out on ESPN3.)

Last Meeting: The last time the Bulldogs met up with Vanderbilt, the Commodores destroyed the Mississippi State, winning the game 72-31 on February 23, 2013 in Starkville. That loss equaled the second largest margin of defeat for Mississippi State at the Humphrey Coliseum.

The contest saw Mississippi State held to under 20 points each half, and in fact, Vanderbilt scored more points in each half than the Bulldogs did for the entire game. Only five Bulldogs scored in the contest: Jalen Steele (9), Craig Sword (6), Fred Thomas (6), Trivante Bloodman (5), and Gavin Ware (5). Kevin Bright with 15 points and Rod Odom with 13 points led Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs did not lose to a good Vanderbilt team in 2013 as the Commodores came into the contest at 10-15 and finished at 16-17.

Players to Watch for Vanderbilt: Odom, a 6-9 forward, will provide a challenge for Mississippi State down low for much of this contest. The senior averages 14.1 points and six rebounds a game and shoots over 40% from the field. Another senior, Kyle Fuller, has been solid for Vanderbilt as well. The senior guard has averaged over 13 points a game in league play, and he is second in the SEC in assists with 4.1 per game.

Vanderbilt finds itself in a similar situation to Mississippi State with the Commodores only having seven scholarship players and ten total players on their roster. Due to this, three Commodores have played SEC play with very little rest. Dai-Jon Parker has played five complete games in SEC play, and he leads the league with 39.4 minutes per game. Odom has played four complete games, and he is third in the league with 36.9 minutes per game. Fuller has played three complete games and is second in the SEC with 38.6 minutes per game. Should Vanderbilt get into foul trouble, the Bulldogs should be able to gain an advantage over a limited Commodore bench.

Why is this game important: The Bulldogs feasted on weaker competition during the regular season, and the Bulldogs have a chance to finish with a solid record and start to bounce back up the SEC. A win over Vanderbilt would put Mississippi State in the top half of the conference, and it would keep alive hopes of an 18 or more win season for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs also need to pick up a win on the road to get positive vibes when playing away from Starkville

Who to watch for Mississippi State: Sword leads the Bulldogs with 13.9 points and 2.1 steals per contest. Freshman I.J. Ready has been able to shoot well at times for the Bulldogs, and in many ways, acts a floor general. Ware, 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, will patrol the paint for Mississippi State. Senior Colin Borchert averages 10.6 points per contest.

Off the bench, Roquez Johnson, Bloodman, Jacoby Davis, and Tyson Cunningham will most likely to contribute.

How do feel about the matchup? Let us know before the game and come back during the game (Bulldogs vs Commodores coverage) to let us know how you feel.