Tiger Tip Preview: Mississippi State

With an 87-77 victory over LSU on Wednesday, Mizzou sneaked his way back into the top half of the SEC standings. The Tigers will be looking to stay there as they take on Mississippi State on the road this weekend.

Like LSU, the Bulldogs got off to a good start in non-conference play under their first-year head coach Chris Jans, going 11-1, but seemed to hit a wall as the championship approached. Mississippi State started its conference roster going 1-7, but has since bounced back with back-to-back wins over #11 TCU and South Carolina.

The game between Mizzou and the Bulldogs is set to be an interesting stylistic matchup, with the Tigers’ No. 9 offense going up against Mississippi State’s No. 8 defense. MU Head Coach Dennis Gates he said he expects a tough race.

“They also have a lot of versatility,” Gates said. “They do a good job in all categories. They do a great job of offensively doing the things they need to do, whether it’s posting feeds or making pitches or attacking paint. They basically play a style that I think has, without a doubt, produced great defensive numbers. And whenever you can, you look at what you do offensively and defensively, and they do those things.


Missouri (17-5, 5-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (14-8, 2-7)

WHEN: 5:00 pm CT

WHERE: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Mississippi

TV: SEC Network

SERIES: Mississippi State leads, 12-5

KENPOM PREDICTION: Mississippi State 73, Mizzou 70



BEST LINEUP OF THE LAST 5 RELEASES (according to CBB Analytics)

Nick Honor-D’Moi Hodge-Isiaih Mosley-Noah Carter-Kobe Brown

Minutes played: 19

Offensive rating: 170.7

Defensive Rating: 113.8

Net rating: +56.9


1. Take the ball and take care of it. Missouri defeated #1 Iowa State. They did this by pushing ISU into giving up the ball, forcing 19 turnovers, staying disciplined on offense, committing 12 turnovers themselves, and pushing the ball in transition, scoring 20 points off turnovers. The game plan should be similar against Mississippi State, a team that ranks #328 in adjusted time. The Bulldogs are also a threat for forcing high turnovers: They rank No. 1 in the SEC in turnover rate while Mizzou is No. 2. The Tigers, however, have an advantage in taking care of the ball: MSU coughed up increased by 19.0% of holdings while MU only did so 15.9% of the time. If the Bulldogs want to play in a slow paced game, the Tigers need to take away the number of opportunities they have to score.

2. As former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy would say, “Form a wall.” Mississippi State fields a top-ranking inside scorer as a senior forward Tolu Smith. The big man is extremely efficient inside the arc, averaging 14.5 points per game while shooting 57.8% from the floor. He also comes to the free throw line at an incredible pace, drawing 7.5 fouls every 40 minutes, which ranks eighth in the nation according to KenPom. Smith made 206 field goal attempts and 146 foul shots, the latter of which leads the SEC. However, the post only knocks down 54.8% of his free throws and, like many of his teammates, isn’t much of a threat from the outside. Only two Bulldogs: senior guard Dashawn Davis and freshman forward Ke Shawn Murphy – connect on at least 30% of their 3 points. MSU hits 28.1% of its 3s, making them the fifth worst shooting team in the NCAA. Mizzou must pack the paint and challenge the Bulldogs to shoot from distance.

3. Don’t let failures discourage you. The Tigers have been scorching on offense in their last three outings, shooting over 49% from the floor and over 46% from 3 in each win. There’s a good chance the ball doesn’t go in that often against Mississippi State. Defense is the Bulldogs’ calling card: They’ve allowed opponents to shoot just 44.7% from the field and 31.0% from depth all year, both below the D1 average. According to KenPom, 37.4% of points scored against MSU come from long range, the 19th highest percentage in the country. Gates said he told his players to “keep shooting” as Mizzou went through a slump four games short of his current three-game hitting streak. But even the Tigers have to keep shooting while on fire. Even if the starters don’t fall to the Bulldogs, Missouri must continue to rely on triples.

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