Last time we saw Mississippi State (12-3, 0-2), they were walking off the court after a 81-77 loss to arch rival, Ole Miss. The Bulldogs were leading by as many as 11 in that game, and ended up losing the lead and ultimately, the game. Many fans are starting to question the direction of the program and some are wanting a change in coaching. Ben Howland plans on getting this team back on track by hosting the Florida Gators (9-6, 1-2) tonight.
Mississippi State was all around beaten in the second half against Ole Miss and the Rebels shot the ball extremely well and that led to their victory over our Bulldogs. Florida’s record doesn’t properly show how good the team is. Florida doesn’t necessarily have a “bad loss” on their schedule other than South Carolina. MSU also lost to South Carolina, so it’s possible everyone misjudged the Gamecocks. Florida lost to Tennessee on Saturday night 78-67, but gave the Volunteers a run for their money. Tennessee led the contest by 2 with 1:25 left in the game, and finally pulled away in the end.
Florida has two players averaging double-digit points on the season: KeVaughn Allen (11.3 ppg) and Noah Locke (10.4 ppg). The Bulldogs have four players in the same category: Quinndary Weatherspoon (17.1 ppg), Lamar Peters (13.6 ppg), Aric Holman (12.7), and Nick Weatherspoon (10.6). MSU leads UF in every statistical team category, the most notable one is the Gators averaging 69.7 ppg as a team vs the Bulldogs’ 80.1.
Mississippi State had expectations to be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and a win against Ole Miss would’ve gotten the rest of the fan base to buy in to this team. Sine MSU lost, a lot of fans are hesitant to invest emotionally. The Bulldogs have a great chance to erase their early conference losses with their next games against Florida, @ Vanderbilt, @ No. 12 Kentucky, and No. 14 Auburn. Win 3 of those games, and the Bulldogs will be ready to face Ole Miss in Oxford on February 2nd. If Coach Howland can win the majority of those games, the team will regain its confidence and ready to take on the end of their schedule and prepare for a run in March.