The Mississippi State Bulldogs(13-3, 1-2) opened conference play with losses to South Carolina and Ole Miss. MSU finally got into the win column after Tuesday’s victory over the Florida Gators. The toughest part of their schedule is closing in fast, and it was very good to get a confidence boost and a win before facing Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss in consecutive games.
The Bulldogs now travel to Nashville, Tennessee to matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores(9-7, 0-4). Vanderbilt is one of two teams that has yet to win a game in the SEC(Missouri), but started with Ole Miss, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Ole Miss is playing very well, South Carolina is undefeated in the SEC so far, and Kentucky is, well Kentucky. Their schedule has been tough so far, and it doesn't get any easier with the Bulldogs coming to town.
Vanderbilt’s best player, Darius Garland, is a 5-star freshman that is expected to be a one-and-done. The only issue is that he’s only played in 5 games this season and will miss the rest of the season with a meniscus injury. Since his injury, the Commodores have done very good in filling in the score sheet with his absence; until they got to their conference schedule. The Commodores’ non-conference schedule did not include many elite teams, but they do have a win against a top-25 team. Vanderbilt’s most notable wins are against USC and Arizona State; MSU lost to Arizona State back in November.
Mississippi State has been statistically better than Vandy in every category so far this season except rebounds(38.1 vs 36.6). Vanderbilt is on a 4-game losing streak while the Bulldogs already have a win in the SEC. Ben Howland knows what’s ahead on the schedule and will have this team prepared and focused on this game, then start planning for Kentucky. Freshman Robert Woodard got his first start against Florida and the Bulldogs got the win; expect him to make his second career start in Nashville and leave with a victory. Hail State!