Missouri 49 | Mississippi State 75
1st Half Notes
- Bates gets the scoring started off with a tough fast break lay-in.
- Tigers attacking the rim early and often. Jordan Butler has specifically been really active down low.
- Somewhat sloppy play from the Bulldogs to start, already recording three turnovers.
- But, the Tigers have also handed the ball to MSU on three occasions.
- Josh Hubbard makes difficult finishes at the rim look just way too easy. The 5-foot-10 guard knows how to work amongst the trees.
- Gates is very upset with the officials after a foul call on Anthony Robinson II. He’s pointing towards the other end, implying that the calls aren’t even right now.
- Tigers doing a great job of matching the physicality of an MSU team that generally makes a living off of punking the opposition in the paint. Specifically the freshmen, Butler and Robinson, have done a great job at stepping up to the plate.
- Carter called for a foul on a box-out of Tolu Smith III. Even when you have good positioning, Smith is experienced and physical enough to tilt the scales in his favor.
- But, the forward then just moved Cameron Matthews out of the way for a lay-up. Off first impressions, this is one of the most physical games Mizzou has played in all season-long.
- DEJA VU! Nick Honor hits a step-back jumper over the outstretched arm of Tolu Smith III, an eerily similar shot to the one from last season’s contest at Mizzou Arena.
- MSU approaches the bonus at the 6:20 mark.
- A great find from Jesus Carralero Martin on that fast-break. He faked a defender and then hit a streaking Tamar Bates with a nice bounce pass that got the star forward to the stripe.
- “Santa’s Little Helper” chants from The Antlers as Josh Hubbard is at the line.
- A really rough collision as Robinson was pinballed between a pair of MSU players while a screen was being set. A foul was assesses on the freshman, and he is on the ground holding his head. Play is now under review.
- The call on the floor stands as Mizzou Arena erupts in outrage.
- Honor just knifed through the MSU defense with some slick handles and then found Vanover for a lob. With East out, we’ve seen a more aggressive, creative version of Honor.
- Shakel Moore, who only averages 8.5 points per game, already has eight in this game on 3-for-3 shooting.
- Carralero Martin getting the most minutes he’s received in a while.
- Mr. Honor has caught lightning in a bottle. He knocks down a pair of 3-pointers to cut the MSU lead to four at the intermission.
2nd Half Notes
- Moore with yet another 3-pointer, and he didn’t even need to watch that one go in. He’s having himself a career night.
- A foul-heavy trend has continued in this half. Mizzou is already in the bonus while MSU has drawn three fouls on the Tigers.
- A 10-0 run from MSU is halted by a pair of free throws from Nick Honor.
- Bates, Lewis, Honor, Butler and Carter are your starters. East II is still sidelined.
5 Fan Questions:
- Who will lead the team in scoring?
- How many steals will the Tigers record?
- How many 3-pointers will Tamar Bates hit?
- What will the halftime score be?
- Who will be the surprise star of the day?
Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.
Missouri (8-15, 0-10 Southeastern Conference) will once again have its hands full on Saturday. Following a 19-point loss to Texas A&M, the Tigers welcome another NCAA Tournament bubble team in Mississippi State (15-8, 4-6). MU missed its opportunity to steal one at home against Arkansas, one on the road against Vanderbilt, and of course against A&M. This Saturday may be the last chance at finding any momentum as three of the next four are on the road. Both Missouri and Mississippi State split last season.
Time: 7:30 PM
Date: Feb. 10
Location: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.
TV: SEC Network
G: Nick Honor (Grad, 10.7 PPG)
G: Curt Lewis (Jr, 2.0 PPG)
G: Tamar Bates (Jr, 14.2 PPG)
F: Jordan Butler (Fr, 1.8 PPG)
F: Noah Carter (Grad, 12.0 PPG)
Notable Sixth Man: Aidan Shaw (Soph, 3.1 PPG)
G: Josh Hubbard (Fr, 14.8 PPG)
G: Shawn Jones Jr. (Soph, 5.2 PPG)
G: Shakeel Moore (Sr, 8.5 PPG)
F: Cameron Matthews (Sr, 9.3 PPG)
F: Tolu Smith (Sr, 17.1 PPG)
Notable Sixth Man: Dashawn Davis (Sr, 6.5 PPG)
Note: At the time of writing this, the status of Sean East II is unknown. He suffered a knee contusion at Vanderbilt and did not play on Wednesday against Texas A&M.
*These are projected starters. Also, in today’s college basketball, positions rarely mean much. Those are included purely for perspective on what matchups on the court may look like.
Get to know Mississippi State
The coach Chris Jans: Mississippi State head coach Chris Jans was a part of the wave of new head coaches at six different programs within the SEC in 2022 along with Dennis Gates, Lamont Paris, Matt McMahon, Mike White, and Todd Golden. In year one, he took the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament, just the second time since 2009 and currently has his group on the bubble this season.
Jans previously was at New Mexico, and underrated program itself. He led the Lobos to a 122-32 record in five seasons that included three regular season and conference tournament titles. Prior to that, Jans made stops at numerous places since the early 1990s with head coaching stints at the junior college level at Kirkwood, Independence, and Howard JC, and one season at Bowling Green. He played collegiately at Loras from 1987-1991 in Dubuque, Iowa (Home to Noah Carter).
The season so far: On Wednesday, a 75-62 victory over Georgia ended a two-game skid for Mississippi State after falling to both Mississippi and Alabama on the road. Conference play hasn’t been too nice (Nicer than what it has been to Missouri) to the Bulldogs as they sit at 4-6 in the SEC. They bright spots for Jans’ team has been victories over No. 5 Tennessee and No. 8 Auburn, both games at home.
Mississippi State started the season 11-2 with blemishes to Georgia Tech and Southern. It rose to as high as No. 21 in the AP Poll before falling to the Yellow Jackets and Jaguars. The teams top quality non-con victories came against Washington State and Northwestern mid-November.
The Key Stats: When it comes to defense, its something that Mississippi State excels in it. The Bulldogs rank 18th in adjusted defensive efficiency (95.3), which is also third in the conference. This comes a season after where the team allowed just 61 points per game. This season, Mississippi State has held eight opponents to 60 or fewer points per contest.
Mississippi State is also one of the best rebounding teams in all of college basketball. The Bulldogs rank 38th with 39.5 rebounds per game. Their offensive rebounds percentage ranks 31st (34.7%) in the nation according to KenPom. In its victory over Georgia, MSU outrebounded UGA 43-33.
Key Players: An experienced roster, Missouri will see a core that it split both meeting with last season. Tolu Smith feasted in both matchups against the Tigers last season putting up a pair of double-doubles. The 6-foot-10 forward has appeared in just 11 games for MSU but is still effective averaging 17.1 points and eight rebounds per game and is one of the premiere big men in the conference.
Cameron Matthews, Shakeel Moore and Deshawn Davis are all returned and contribute positive production for Jans’ squad. Matthews and Moore are MSU’s second and third leading scorers both averaging over eight per contest while Davis assists totals are top 15 in the SEC. To help Smith in the rebounding department, Matthews also grabs over seven boards a game, which is ahead of West Virginia transfer (and a Mizzou target this past off-season) Jimmy Bell’s 6.4 per contest.
D.J. Jefferies is a player that will likely not take the court due to injury but has been a key piece for the team the past three seasons.
A pleasant surprise for MSU this season has been freshman guard Josh Hubbard. The 3-star, 5-foot-10 Madison, Mississippi native has appeared in 23 games for the Bulldogs averaging 14.8 per contest. His 14 against Georgia was the second-most on Wednesday behind Smith’s 19.
3 Keys to The Game
No. 1 Get ready to battle on the boards
It seems like a repetitive theme, but as seen above you see how good Texas A&M is on the offensive and defensive glass. Last season it was D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown and Mohammed Diarra who helped keep pace in the battle on the boards in a loss at MSU. In a overtime victory later in the 22-23 season, it was Tre Gomillion (11 rebounds!) and once again Brown. Missouri doesn’t have any of those players this season so who is going to step up?
The Tigers were outclassed on the boards against Texas A&M by a 38-19 margin. An 18-rebound margin is the worse for the team this season. After the game Gates mentioned how he doesn’t remember the last time a player on the roster had a double-digit rebound performance.
Now, the Tigers don’t necessarily need a double-digit rebounder, but a collective effort that will prevent from what happened on Wednesday to happen again.
No. 2 More playing time for Mabor Majak?
Will Saturday be the first time we see Mabor Majak in the starting lineup? Against A&M only one player had a positive plus-minus. That player was Majak with a plus-1. Gates has recently spoken highly of the 7-foot-2 center. He’s recently played 19 and 13 minutes over the past two contest collecting six total rebounds in the process. While he alone isn’t the recipe to victory, more time on the court can help the Tigers especially on the offensive and defensive glass.
No. 3 Avoid that cold stretch
We’ve seen the good and bad in every conference game so far. Missouri at some point takes a lead and looks like one of the better teams in the SEC. Then, the bad hits and it outweighs any silver linings that can be taken away. One of these misfortunes is the long daunting scoring droughts this team experiences during games. Missouri took a 23-22 lead against Texas A&M but in a blink of an eye was a 15-point deficit with under a minute to play in the first half. Avoiding these stretches could yield positive results as the Tigers usually make the game close midway through the second half.
KenPom Prediction: Mississippi State 73, Missouri 67
My Prediction: Mississippi State 69, Missouri 57
I know its at home, but it is hard to see Missouri coming away victorious at any point in SEC play. Mississippi State isn’t the greatest offensive team, which means their is an opportunity for the Tigers to capitalize, but on the defensive side and on the boards, the Bulldogs will impose their will.