Saturday, January 28, 2017

Game Preview - Mississippi State

I bet you thought I was going to miss this preview, but here I am, 1:15 AM the day of the game, writing for you. That's customer service, baby. More satisfying would be an Alabama win later today. For the second time, our beloved Crimson Tide will square off with Starkville's finest. Game time is 5 PM CT. Television duties will be handled by the SEC Network. Hopefully they will actually send analysts to the game. Reading that the analysts for the Georgia game were not even on site for a game they were calling is astonishing to me. When the analysts can't even be bothered to attend the game, how hard can we truly be on the fans for not attending? While it's awesome that we can watch every single Alabama basketball game on TV (or Youtube), maybe it's not a great thing for the game itself.  Or maybe ESPN - a billion dollar company - shouldn't be so cheap.

Mississippi State

68.9 PPG 75.5

63.3 OPP 69.6

42.9 FG% 46.5

40.6 OPP 43.3

49.1 EFG% 53.7

46.9 OPP 48.7

32.8 3PT% 37.3

35.6 OPP 31.8

62.8 FT% 69.6

68 OPP 68.2

40.2 FTRATE 38.1

38.3 OPP 30.7

38.9 RPG 34.5

32.5 OPP 36.3

34.3 OREB% 26.6

24.8 OPP 30.8

13.7 TOPG 12.3

14.8 OPP 14.3

20.2 TO% 17.5

21.7 OPP 20.4

59 KenPom Ranking 82

My Two Cents: This rivalry is getting back on track. The two games last season were very hotly contested with both teams winning on the other team's home court, and the game in Starkville to open conference play this season was a very competitive affair. Avery and Ben Howland are recruiting well so the games between the two programs are only going to continue to grow in importance. For now, both teams are trying to play their way into the postseason. The NCAA Tournament appears to be a long shot for both due to missed opportunities in the non-conference for Bama, and a weak non-conference schedule for State, but both coaches in their second seasons would be happy with any postseason bid at this point in the program's development. I expect another competitive game tomorrow. Our guys need the fans to show up in force, be loud, and help this team get to 6-2 in league play.

Players to Watch: Dazon Ingram is going through a bit of a funk. His offensive numbers have dipped, and he's had his struggles with protecting the ball. He did end the Georgia game strong, knocking down some free throws late, and had a huge block of a J.J. Frazier shot when Georgia made a late attempt at a run. The team is finding a way to compete, and Braxton is slowly growing into a go-to player, but I still believe for this team to be a consistent winner, they need Dazon playing at a high level. 

The emergence of freshman Lamar Peters has been a big reason for State's improvement in recent weeks. In SEC play, Peters is averaging 15.8 ppg, 3.7 apg and 1.4 spg. Peters is also shooting 40% from 3 in league play, including a 7-11 performance in the last game vs Missouri. Peters has been fantastic with breaking down a defense with the dribble and opening up the floor, creating opportunities for his teammates. As a result this State team has really improved on offense. Our guys have to keep Peters under wraps. If he has a strong game tomorrow, it could be the key to State leaving Tuscaloosa with a second consecutive win.

Prediction: This is a tough one to call. Both teams have improved in conference play, both are well-coached, and road teams in the conference have been very successful this season. Alabama's offensive issues make them vulnerable in every game. State can be an explosive offensive team so our guys must control the tempo, while working hard to avoid the droughts that seem to happen every game (despite the final score, Alabama had a field goal drought of nine minutes in the Georgia game). I really can't decide so I'll go with the home team in this one. Alabama - 72 - Mississippi State - 60

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