GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Texas A&M Aggies will both try to halt prolonged losing streaks on Wednesday night when the SEC foes clash at Reed Arena.
Although Mississippi State is a solid 13-8 on the season, it has gone just 3-5 in SEC play, which includes losses in three straight. The Bulldogs most recently dropped a 55-49 decision at Vanderbilt on Saturday and have still yet to win a road game (0-5).
Texas A&M was surging to start the season, opening up 12-4 while winning each of its first three league contests, but it has since spiraled out of control with five consecutive setbacks, the longest current losing streak in the SEC. The Aggies had the unenviable task of playing nationally-ranked Florida on the road on Saturday were embarrassed in a 69-36 loss.
Mississippi State leads the all-time series with Texas A&M, 3-2, which includes an 81-72 overtime win in Starkville back on Jan. 18.
The Bulldogs found themselves down by as many as 13 to Vanderbilt over the weekend, and while they managed to make their deficit just four with 1:15 left, they could never overtake the lead. They shot just 40.4 percent from the floor in the loss, had a quiet night at the free-throw line (4-of-6) and committed 18 turnovers which turned in 24 Vanderbilt points. Fred Thomas was the lone player to register in double figures, pouring in 16 points while shooting 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
On the season, Mississippi State shoots a solid 45.1 percent from the field, but it scores nearly the same amount of points (68.9 ppg) as it allows on the opposite end of the floor (68.3 ppg). It has been held back by poor showings from beyond the arc (.310) and the free-throw line (.647). Craig Sword leads the way with 13.4 ppg and is also a strong perimeter defender with more than two steals per contest. Gavin Ware puts up 10.7 ppg (on 59.7 percent field goal shooting) and 7.9 rpg, while Colin Borchert rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg.
In their latest game, the Aggies wasted a solid defensive effort, holding Florida to 41.1 percent field goal shooting, by putting together by far their worst offensive performance of the season, scoring 36 points, while shooting 14-of-54 from the field (.259). They were also outrebounded by a commanding 57-27 margin in the 33-point loss. Unsurprisingly, no one scored in double figures, with Kourtney Roberson's seven points and seven rebounds the only performance of note.
Texas A&M can typically rely on a stellar defensive effort, as it yields just 63.2 ppg on 40.2 percent shooting while boasting a +1.4 turnover margin, but it has been held back by the SEC's worst scoring offense (65.3 ppg), and over the last four games that number has dwindled to a mere 48.5 ppg. Jamal Jones pours in a team-best 11.4 ppg and has drained 40 3-pointers, but he oftentimes hurts the team more than he helps, netting just 36.4 percent of his shots overall. Roberson mans the paint with 9.5 ppg and 7.0 rpg, while Alex Caruso (8.5 ppg) dishes out 4.6 apg.
Mississippi State may have had the Aggies' number a few weeks back, but it still can't be trusted on the road, even against a struggling Texas A&M squad.
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