After a brief foray into nonconference action over the weekend, Mississippi State and Arkansas will be in different moods when they resume SEC play at Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday.
Mississippi State will be coming in confident and in the midst of a good three-game stretch of basketball, even though only one of those games resulted in a win.
The Bulldogs (10-8, 4-5 SEC) played ranked opponents Alabama and Tennessee tough on the road before suffering single-digit losses, and then returned home to pummel Iowa State as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, 95-56.
Mississippi State continued its good defensive play — the Bulldogs are limiting opponents to under 66 points a game this year — but even better was a breakout offensive performance against the Cyclones.
The 95 points were the most scored by Mississippi State this season.
“We came out and really played hard, which we have done the past three games in a row now,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “That was as hard as we’ve played all year. I thought our defense was outstanding in that first half.”
Mississippi State features two players who are tied for third in the conference in scoring, Iverson Molinar and D.J. Stewart Jr., who are each averaging 17.6 points per game.
Now, the Bulldogs have an opportunity to get what would be a terrific win in their push for an NCAA tournament berth as Arkansas enters No. 33 in the NET rankings — one of the tournament selection committee’s measuring metrics.
Arkansas (13-5, 5-4 SEC) enters the game following a tough, 81-77 loss at Oklahoma State, thanks to a go-ahead jumper by Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with 21 seconds remaining.
However, the Razorbacks are on a three-game winning streak within the conference.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman lamented missed opportunities by his team against the Cowboys and said that needs to be addressed going forward.
Arkansas has been a good offensive team overall, averaging 83.9 points per game.
“You can’t miss point-blank layups and beat a good team,” Musselman said. “We have to become better rim finishers.”
Arkansas is led in scoring by Moses Moody (16.6 ppg) and JD Notae (13.9 ppg).
This will be the only meeting in the regular season between the Bulldogs and Razorbacks.
–Field Level Media