At 3:00 CT today, Mississippi State clashes with the Clemson Tigers in a matchup that contains teams that are both expected to make it to the March Madness Tournament. Clemson is coming off a Sweet 16 run as a 5 seed. The Tigers handedly beat Auburn by 31 in the round of 32, but they didn’t have enough to top Kansas. Clemson only lost by 4, and brings back four of their five starters from the Sweet 16 team.
Mr. “Do-It-All” Gabe DeVoe is the biggest loss the Tigers have suffered from this season. DeVoe scored 22, 22, and 31 in their tournament games. Losing a player with that kind of scoring ability will hurt any team. Senior guards Marquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell have taken most of the load scoring after losing DeVoe. Reed leads the Tigers, averaging 19.4 points per game and 5.1 rebounds. The biggest challenge for the Bulldogs will be stopping Reed and Mitchell from scoring from all over the floor. Clemson also has Elijah Thomas, a player who can score inside the paint. The interior has been the biggest weakness in the Bulldogs’ defense.
Mississippi State currently has 5 players averaging double digit points, while Clemson only has 3. Clemson averages 13 turnovers a game which feeds directly to MSU’s biggest strength: forcing turnovers and scoring in transition.
The biggest concern for the Mississippi State team is how the team will start in the first half. Through last year, and in some games this year, the Bulldogs force a lot of shots in the first half and dig themselves in a hole by halftime. It’s very easy to say that MSU is a second half team. If Mississippi State can keep the game close going into the half, they should be able to take control and come out on top. Expect back and forth scoring between these two teams as they try to close out their non-conference schedule on a high note.