Mississippi State is the next chance for the Missouri Tigers to get in the SEC win column.
TV Schedule: Saturday, February 10, 8:30 pm ET (SECN)
Location: Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri
The loss on Wednesday night to Texas A&M pushed Missouri (8-15) to 0-10 in the SEC, its worst start in conference play since the 2016-17 season. The Tigers were without leading scorer Sean East II in the 79-60 loss. In East’s absence, Tamar Bates led Mizzou with 20 points, scoring 17 in the second half. Nick Honor chipped in 19 points, his season-high, and Noah Carter added 11 points. The rest of the team added 10 points.
Injuries have started to pile up for the Tigers. Until the past week, the injuries have been to role players but now have come for Mizzou’s offensive leader. Sean East II (15.6 ppg) is dealing with a knee contusion and is considered day-to-day, the team announced before the game against Texas A&M.
Tamar Bates (14.2 ppg) has been the most reliable scorer for the Tigers in conference play, scoring 12 or more points in all ten games. Noah Carter (12 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Nick Honor (10.7 ppg) have both scored in double digits the past two games, but they will need to become more consistent scorers if Missouri hopes to notch its first SEC win.
Mississippi State (15-8) has looked great at times in conference play, taking down No. 5 Tennessee and No. 8 Auburn at home. But MSU has struggled away from its home court, failing to tally a single win on the road this season.
The Bulldogs picked up a fourth SEC win on Wednesday, taking down Georgia 75-62. Tolu Smith led MSU with 19 points and 12 rebounds on 8-10 shooting. Josh Hubbard added 14 points, with Shakeel Moore and Keshawn Murphy both scoring in double figures.
MSU has been solid on offense this season, averaging just over 74 points and making 53.4 percent of its shots inside the three-point arc. Tolu Smith (17.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Josh Hubbard (14.8 ppg) lead Mississippi State in scoring. Most of the offense runs through these two players, as no other Bulldogs average double-digit points.
Smith has come on strong after missing most of the season due to injury. In eleven games played, he has scored 15 or more points seven times and finished with a double-double four times.
Mississippi State has one of the better defenses in the country, giving up just over 68 points per game. MSU’s opponents are making 40.6 percent from the field and only 29.2 percent from three. The Bulldogs are also one of the better rebounding teams, averaging 39.5 per game.
This is a nightmare matchup for Missouri. The Tigers already struggle defending the rim and will have to deal with an incredibly efficient post scorer in Tolu Smith. I could see him having a career night against an injury-riddled Mizzou team.
I think Mississippi State will pick up its first road win this season. The Tigers are struggling too much on both ends of the court for me to pick them to win this one. Missouri will most likely have to wait another week for an opportunity at a conference win.