Hey look at that, we're back to a winning streak of 1! Mizzou took down Auburn at home on Tuesday night and put themselves in a dead heat to possibly move out of 14th place in the SEC and all the way up to 13th. All that stands in the way is Saturday's opponent, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, that and Auburn not beating Georgia...
Presenting the Mississippi State Bulldogs
location: Starkville, Mississippi
By HHKB Chris: Because I hate messing with a good thing, when entering into preview part deux I'm going to take a look at the more wild and whacky things that are the law of the land in Mississippi. Now I've not been to Mississippi, but I've been near it! Got close, I was in Memphis a few times and in Arkansas, but managed to miss Mississippi. What am I missing? I have no idea, but I do know that if I ever end up there, I'm going to want to keep some of their laws at the forefront of my brain.
Most specifically, the possibility of a $100 fine for using profane language in public. F*CK! Man, I can't express the Sh*t out of myself if I can't add a little bit of color to my vernacular. Stop being such D*cks Mississippi. It appears to me that someone took the premise of Demolition Man just a bit too seriously. Well, if the toilets are as complicated in Mississippi as they are in that movie, stupid f*cking seashells, then I'm going to go all John Spartan on the state and swear all the live long day down there.
It is also illegal for a man to seduce a woman by lying to her. So, either everyone in the state is terrifyingly truthful, or there's a lot of lonely sad nights on campus. Just a bunch of dudes sitting around playing beer games working on their truth game. Somehow I don't think that's what's happening. Though it doesn't say the ladies can't lie to the men, so maybe Mississippi is the most progressive state there is! Yeah, that's the ticket.
Outside of Dak Prescott, who was in Star Wars I believe, what do you actually know about State? Well you know it's in Starkville and people love to call it StarkVEGAS because that means it's a party at all times just ready to explode all over you! There's also a NashVEGAS in the SEC so apparently, like the herpes you may catch in the original town, Vegas is catching across the south. It's only a matter of time before there's GainesVEGAS, ColumbiVEGAS, etc. Do you see how dumb this looks? Just be Starkville, be you! Anyway, I digressed there a bit, we're supposed to be talking about Mississippi A&M. That's right, before State was State, it was an A&M. Why so few colleges want to own that A&M I don't know. You stand tall Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, and Florida A&M, don't be embarrassed of your love of agriculture and mining. Once State had decided they did not want to be an A&M they decided to be Mississippi State College and all was right in their world. There's nothing particularly funny about all this, just that they wanted their purview expanded, which is fine...but still, don't frown on your ag and min brothers and sisters.
And what Mississippi State preview would be complete without some uninterrupted noise.
CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA
Whew, I feel better getting that out of the way. Crazy State kids and their bells....
This is Mizzou's final regular season game before we head to NASHVEGAS (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!) for the SEC tournament held at Bridgestone Arena because no one's hosting such an important tournament at the thing Vanderbilt calls a basketball place. With this game being in STARKVEGAS (YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!) I imagine most fans will be at home watching this game on the SEC Network at 5:30 PM central. You've got all day to get hyped! Win this game and we may move up to the 13th and then the SEC Tournament opens up to us like an oyster that Mizzou wins and we shock the country. Who is Kim Anderson? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Mike Alden tell it, anybody could have worked for Anderson. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Anderson ever pulled was convincing the world that the Mizzou basketball team didn't exist. And like that, poof. They're SEC Champions.
About Their Basketball Team
By Sam Snelling: Last we met, Mississippi State wasn't doing too poorly. They had won 4 of 8, and were competitive in every game except the game at Arkansas in that stretch. And as Mizzou can attest, games in Fayetteville can get away from you at times. Since the game in Columbia, which saw Mississippi State hold off a furious comeback from the Tigers to win 77-74, the Bulldogs have gone in the tank just a bit as they've lost 5 straight. Two of those were to Arkansas and Kentucky, so... that's not that bad. Mizzou's 13 game losing streak had 4 games to UK and Arky. Most teams lose to those two.
So after losing 5 straight, State comes into the game against Mizzou with a 12-18 record, 5-12 in the SEC and a 170 ranking in KenPom. It will be senior day for MSU's 4 seniors: Trivante Bloodman, Isaiah Butler, Jeffrey Johnson and Roquez Johnson. Only Johnson and Bloodman are real contributors to the team however, and both will play large roles against the Tigers this go around. In the first meeting, Bloodman only contributed 3 points in 12 minutes, but Johnson was a load and scored 22 points in 26 minutes. He tied for a team high that day with Craig Sword who dropped in his 22 points in 29 minutes.
State has steadily gotten better the last few years under Ray's direction. Gavin Ware is a player who didn't completely impact the game in Columbia, but really is the Bulldogs second go-to guy behind Sword. Although 8 players average between 8 and 11 points per game, with Fred Thomas and I.J. Ready being the other two contributors there. Lastly, the Dogs are only 8-8 at home, but the problem is that the Tigers have yet to win a road game, and haven't won a road game in conference since beating Arkansas in late January last year.
Now for a closer look at their basketball team, let's chat with somebody who knows them best...
Q&A With FOR WHOM THE COWBELL TOLLS
So there's this guy, Charlie Burris, who is the Editor(s)-In-Chief at FWtCT, and he's been on our podcast, and is a generally well informed Mississippi State fan. I recommend you give him a follow on twitter as he talks more than just State, and he's got a cool avatar on his profile. With that said, I asked him just a few questions because we're both rather tired of covering these bad teams this year, so 3 questions was easier than 5. Here they are!
RockMNation: Mississippi State's last win was against the Tigers, what have the Bulldogs struggled to do since holding on for the win late in Columbia?
Author: The Bulldogs simply haven''t been able to score since their game against Mizzou. State scored 77 points against the Tigers and hasn't broken 70 since. On top of not being able to score, MSU has been giving up far too many points on the other side of the ball. The Dawgs last five opponents averaged 71.4 points per game while MSU averaged only 61.2. I don't think I really need to say but there's really no way to win games with stats like that. Also, at 12-18 overall, State's season is essentially a lost cause to the fans and I think the players have felt the same way for a while now. Apathy could very well be the Bulldog's demise on Saturday, and I really don't blame them.
RMN: Has the recent slide changed the temperature on any offseason changes in the State basketball offices or do you think Coach Ray is likely back for year 4?
Author: Losing 5 games in a row in the final stretch of the season does not bode well for Rick Ray's job security but as of right now, I believe he will be back in Starkville next year. The fans won't be happy about it but, frankly, there are very few solid options for a replacement. All SEC fans know that this is a football conference at its core and basketball, unfortunately, often plays second-fiddle. The fact is that lots of coaches would much rather stay in a conference like the C-USA and have real success than go to the SEC and be perpetually mediocre. I know that sounds harsh but, folks, it's the truth.
RMN: How do you see this game playing out? What is your prediction for the final score?
Author: Honestly, this game is so inconsequential, I may not even watch it... Okay, I'm gonna watch it but I won't be happy about it. I think this game will be ugly, the players will likely be lethargic, and the fans likely won't be into it. I see a lots of turnovers and missed 3-pointers. Now, I may be wrong and lords knows I hope I am, but this will be #SECBasketballFever in it's most brilliant and refined form. In the end, I think State pulls it out 68-63.
Thanks again to Charlie for answering our questions. Considering our two programs are at the end of a long and mostly ugly season, I appreciate him investing any of his time in helping us out there.
This should be a pretty epic battle of two bad teams. It will be interesting to see who shows up and plays with fire as there isn't a lot to gain, or lose, for either team. A loss to bottom rung Mizzou on Senior day could, in theory, be the straw that broke the camels back in regards to the retention of Rick Ray however. Although I still have a hard time seeing them move on from Ray, even though he hasn't produced a solid season to this point, he started SO low that it would be understandable to see if he could turn things around moving forward, and he seems to do a good job preparing his teams and they play hard. Two things that you want out of a coach.
So how is this game gonna play out? Who knows with these two teams, but let's look at past history to guide us.
1) Don't Get Down Early
Mizzou needs to gain some confidence on the road, and the last time these two teams played, Mizzou bombed early getting down by 17 points in the first half. This is also what happened against Georgia. When you go on the road you have to find a way to stay in the game or the home team can ride the momentum to an easy win.
2) Win the glass... Again
Yes, Mizzou won the rebounding battle last time, and they'll need to do so again. They have the players to win rebounding battles against Mississippi State, but those guys have to show up. Last time they did a very good job on the defensive glass, and were competent on the offensive glass. Do that again and you'll have a shot.
Last time around, JW3 had himself a game. 27 points on 9-15 from the floor and 7 rebounds. This time around, he doesn't need to do all of that (although it would be nice) but needs to get going a bit. He's averaging less than 10 points and just over 6 rebounds since that performance. Conversely, Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright have both started playing very well. And considering that last time the two freshmen gave Mizzou next to nothing (3-15 for 8 points, 8 fouls), if they could just muster the kind of performance they had vs Auburn that would be an improvement, but I actually think this could be a game where the two shine a bit more.
Winning this game would amount to a mild upset. Mississippi State is favored to win in KenPom by 4 points with a 70% chance to come out on top. The odds aren't exactly in Mizzou's favor there, but Mississippi State isn't a very good team. Now, we know that Missouri isn't either, but the Tigers managed to get outscored by 17 points in less than 20 minutes of the first half, and found a way to be in the game late. They, as usual, don't have a huge margin for error... but this is a winnable game.
I don't think they can rely on Keith Shamburger to carry them the way he did against Auburn. Mizzou needs JW3 to play well, and if a few of the freshmen don't completely disappear they could sneak out of Starkville with a win. In the end it will be tough because it is a senior night for the Bulldogs, and we saw how that buoyed the Tigers on Tuesday. Will it be enough? I kind of think it will be. I like Mizzou to win this game, but only ever so slightly. It is a virtual tossup, but I'll take the Tigers to win, on the strength of the young and talented freshmen with a final score of: Missouri 67, Mississippi State 66.
Trifeckta and Predictions below if you're still watching this game... or if you aren't, either way... I'll take Teki, Shams and JW3. Looking on the brightside, this is the last regular season game for both teams.