The Mississippi State Bulldogs are on a three game winning streak and Ben Howland’s team is certainly determined to keep its winning ways going. The Bulldogs are set to square off with the Alabama Crimson Tide tonight.
SEC Network at 6:00 PM. You can watch it on WatchESPN here.
Records and Rankings
- Record: 17-6 overall, 5-5 SEC
- RPI: 52
- Strength of Schedule: 117
- Record: 15-8 overall, 6-4 SEC
- RPI: 36
- Strength of Schedule: 15
Things to Watch For
- Mississippi State’s starting lineup continuing to play well. I’ll get into this a bit more later, but the Bulldogs seem to have found a cohesiveness that is leading to wins as the team continues to improve. Four of Mississippi State’s starting five scored 60 of the 72 points that the Bulldogs put up against UGA.
- Alabama’s freshmen back court duo of Collin Sexton and John Petty. Sexton specifically has received some NBA draft buzz and for good reason. On the season, Sexton is averaging 18.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. He’s doing this all while shooting 43.6% from the field and 36.8% from three point range. Petty’s totals are little lower, but his 11 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game are still worth noting.
- Mississippi State’s home court advantage. The Bulldogs are 15-1 at home, an impressive record that they likely want to build upon. MSU had a record setting crowd show up last night for a historic game and though this game doesn’t quite have the stakes that last night’s did, a large crowd tonight would go a long way to creating an imposing atmosphere.
Earlier this year, Mississippi State dropped a game to the Crimson Tide by a score of 68-62 and that was without the aforementioned Collin Sexton playing. This go round, the Bulldogs will have to account for the star freshman and attempt to overcome him. Mississippi State has been playing better as of late and the defense was stout against Georgia, holding the other Bulldogs to 57 points in their last game.
Mississippi State is likely going to need a strong performance from the entirety of their starting lineup. Most notably, the Bulldogs will almost certainly need Quinndary Weatherspoon to excel tonight. Weatherspoon is currently averaging career highs in rebounds and assists with 6.0 and 4.0 respectively, while also scoring 15 points per game. And though he’s performed well all year, it’s unrealistic to expect Q to be able to overcome Sexton and Petty on his own.
In Mississippi State’s dominant win against UGA, four of the five starters for MSU scored in double digits. Lamar Peters showed out with 20 points, leading all scorers for both teams. Both Weatherspoon brothers, Quinndary and Nick, scored 14 points. Aric Holman had 12 points. And though he didn’t get in double digits scoring, Abdul Ado scored 7 points, pulled down 6 rebounds, and blocked 2 shots.
If MSU wants to beat Alabama, it’ll likely need a cohesive unit that performs almost perfectly together. The Bulldogs have been playing well together as of late, but it still may not be enough. It’s hard to account for a talent such as Collin Sexton and the impact that he could have in a game like this. Alabama is coming off of a 68-50 win over #23 ranked Florida with Sexton having scored 17 points in the win. If I had to pick, I’d go with Alabama winning 73-68.