Wed, 27 Jan 2021

Miss. St. looking for first win, hosts Texas State

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2020, 14:55 GMT+10

Mississippi State looks for its first win of the season Monday when the Bulldogs host Texas State in their home opener in Starkville, Miss.

The Bulldogs (0-2) dropped a pair of games played in Melbourne, Fla., to Clemson on Wednesday and Liberty on Thursday.

Forward Tolu Smith averaged 16.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games, with 20 points against Liberty. Guard D.J. Stewart is also averaging 16.0 points to go with 3.0 assists.

Still, Mississippi State didn't come close to winning, and there is work to be done for a team that went 20-11 with an 11-7 SEC record last season.

"We scheduled a very difficult schedule this year," head coach Ben Howland said. "We have to grow up here in a hurry. We've got to bounce back. We've watched film and practiced over the last two days in preparation for Monday's game."

One issue is the 6-foot-10 Smith being put in tough spots on defense.

"We're obviously growing. We've got to get a lot better at every pass. We've got to get better, No. 1, defensively," Howland said. "I think it's hard for us at times when we're having to match up with teams that play small ball, because you're asking Tolu (Smith) to get out and guard perimeter guys."

The Bobcats (2-0) had advanced out of the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament last March before the coronavirus stopped everything. They are off to a strong start, but the Bulldogs on the road will be the highest quality opponent they will have faced to date.

Texas State is coming off a 75-63 road win at Texas AM-Corpus Christi on Saturday, with guard Mason Harrell scoring 18 points and forward Alonzo Sule adding 14. Harrell turned the ball over five times.

"I was proud of our ability to play through our mistakes and I felt our bench production was the story of the game," interim head coach Terrence Johnson said. "Everyone contributed and no one cared who got the credit. Road wins are not easy to come by. ... We will need to play hard, if not harder, but smarter if we want to beat Mississippi State."

Texas State got 31 points off its bench in the latest win.

The Bobcats have logged back-to-back 20-plus-win seasons and have achieved that in three of their past four seasons.

This season, Texas State is averaging 86.5 points per game and has made more than 50 percent of its shots in both wins.

Their two opponents so far are averaging just 61 points and a 34.9 percent shooting percentage.

Humphrey Coliseum will be at 25 percent capacity this season, as determined by the state's most recent executive order.

--Field Level Media

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