The first basketball game in the Egg Bowl Rivalry is a crucial one. The Ole Miss Rebels had been keeping themselves in NCAA Tournament conversation due to their good RPI, but it has slipped some since SEC play cranked up. The Mississippi State Bulldogs have shown why people think this team isn’t too far off from being special, but they need to get more consistent. The winner could use this game to catapult them to a better finish in 2017.
Broadcast Info and Venue
- Location: Oxford, MS (The Pavilion)
- Time: 6:00 p.m.
- Television: SEC Network
- Radio: MSU Radio Network (Check local listings, also available on the Tune-In Radio App)
Info to know
Mississippi State Profile
- Record (13-7, 4-4 SEC)
- Record on the road: 2-2
- RPI: 123
- Current Place in SEC Standings: Tied for 6th
Ole Miss Profile
- Record (12-9, 3-5 SEC)
- Record at home: 8-5
- RPI: 69
- Current Place in SEC Standings: Tied for 9th
Projected Starting Lineups
- Quinndary Weatherspoon (17.6 PPG, 49.1 FG%, 43.5 3PT%, 4.7 RPG)
- Lamar Peters (12.1 PPG, 44.7 FG%, 43.4 3PT%, 3.0 APG)
- Mario Kegler (9.6 PPG, 41.3 FG%, 32.9 3PT%, 5.5 RPG)
- Aric Holman (9.1 PPG, 49.6 FG%, 6.4 RPG, 2.3 BPG)
- Schnider Herard (5.3 PPG, 60.3 FG%, 5.2 RPG)
- Sebastian Saiz (15.8 PPG, 50.0 FG%, 11.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG)
- Terrance Davis (12.6 PPG, 47.5 FG%, 32.1 3PT%, 5.4 RPG)
- Deandre Burnett (16.9 PPG, 51.9 FG%, 36.4 3PT%, 3.2 APG)
- Neal Cullen (10.1 PPG, 41.4 FG%, 41.4 3PT%, 2.7 APG)
- Marcanvis Hyman (3.3 PPG, 50.9 FG%, 4.2 RPG)
- Who bounces back better? Mississippi State was riding high when they faced off against Kentucky and gave the Wildcats all they could handle. But since starting the SEC season 3-1, the Bulldogs are 1-3 and need to get some more positive momentum. Ole Miss is coming off a good performance against Baylor, but it was still a loss. Can they use the performance to build on, or will the close loss hit the Rebels mentally like a loss to Kentucky does?
- Slow down Saiz. The biggest disadvantage the Bulldogs will have will be against Sebastian Saiz. He’s been the rock for Ole Miss and averages a double-double for the season. Schnider Herard can’t afford to get in foul trouble, as he will be the best option to slow the best player for Ole Miss.
- Is Deandre Burnett any closer to 100%? Burnett is the leading scorer for Ole Miss, but he suffered a high ankle sprain during the game against Georgia on January 12th. Ever since he suffered the injury, he’s struggled to be as productive. He was averaging 19 points before that game, but his average has fallen below 17 since that time. He didn’t start against Baylor, and only made 1-10 field goal attempts.
- Can the Bulldogs hold their own on the boards? The biggest problem Mississippi State has is their lack of size to go get rebounds. Ole Miss is out rebounding their opponents by almost two per game. The Bulldogs will need to keep up and not allow Saiz and friends to control the offensive glass.
- Talent versus Experience. Mississippi State is easily more talented in this matchup. So how can Ole Miss make up for the talent differential? They do it with a much more experienced roster. This game is crucial for Ole Miss keeping the narrative of Ben Howland and his group of highly rated players from taking over the state of Mississippi much like the Bulldogs did under Rick Stansbury. If the Bulldogs can win, it could be a while before Ole Miss is able to pick up another win against Mississippi State. If Ole Miss wins, it continues to show that despite the strides the team has made, they still have a long way to go.
After years of having their way with Ole Miss, the Bulldogs lost more games in the series than they won under Rick Ray. In the first game the two teams played a year ago, the Bulldogs emerged victorious in the only game Malik Newman played really well, but Ole Miss got their revenge in Oxford. If this game were played in Starkville, I’d feel really confident picking the Bulldogs. But it’s not, so I hesitate to pull that trigger. Just because I’m hesitating, doesn’t mean I won’t though. In the end, the Bulldogs talent wins out and Mississippi State wins 78-70.