Who: Mississippi State (10-11, 3-5) @ Tennessee (13-7, 5-3)
Where to Watch: SEC Network
When to Watch: February 3rd, 6 PM CST
After a huge win against LSU this weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Tennessee seeking their second straight win. This is the 121st meeting between the Volunteers and the Bulldogs with Tennessee holding the all time series lead, 79-41. Coach Rick Ray will also be looking for his first win against the Vols; Ray picked up his first win against LSU over the weekend.
Tennessee and Mississippi State met in The Hump to open the SEC season back in early January, in a game many Bulldog fans would rather forget. The Bulldogs had ten points with six minutes to go in the first half and would finish the game with a season low 47 points in the 61-47 loss to the Volunteers. The Bulldogs hit on only 11 field goal attempts in the entire game and shot for 11% from the three point line. It was clearly one of the worst performances of the season for the Bulldogs but a lot has changed since then.
Mississippi State has won three out of their last five SEC games, matching their conference win total from a year ago, and have really started to play team basketball in recent weeks. The Bulldogs have kicked it up a notch on offense recently thanks to contributions from I.J. Ready and Craig Sword. Ready has scored double-figures in seven straight games and has added a decent three point threat to the Bulldogs offense, while Sword has poured in an average of 16 points in his last four games.
Tennessee has been successful in recent weeks as well, winning three out of their last five, including an emotional win over former coach Bruce Pearl. The Bulldogs are going to have to find a way to slow down Senior Josh Richardson, who currently averages nearly 16 points a game. In their last game against Auburn, Tennessee beat the Tigers on the boards 34-26, hit five 3-pointers and Armani Moore went off for a game high 19 points.
This is a road game and all Mississippi State fans know that adds a more difficult element to this ballgame. Can the Bulldogs get a road win outside of bottom feeder Auburn this season? We're about to find out. Neither of these teams shoots the ball particularly well and both find ways to win games with second chance opportunities.
If the Bulldogs can get some combination of Johnson, Sword or Ready into double digits in this game, the Bulldogs will win. Another thing to watch for in this game is the foul discrepancy. In their last road game against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs were called for 27 fouls to the Rebels 12. Keeping the best players out of foul trouble and on the court will be key if the Bulldogs want a shot at the upset. As has been the case in all of State's games in recent weeks, expect another tight contest with the Tennessee home environment helping the Vols pull out a close win over MSU.
Prediction: Tennessee 64-62
Dawg Facts: Mississippi State hasn't won a game in February since Feb 29, 2012.