MSU-Arkansas Pregame: Can Bulldogs Handle the Pressure?

Today’s game: MSU (7-9, 2-2 SEC) at Arkansas (11-6, 2-2), 8 p.m., CSS (Matt Stewart play-by-play, Kyle Macy analyst), XM 200, Sirius 135.

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Rick Ray is going to have to coach his butt off tonight at Bud Walton Arena. His Bulldogs, who have lost two in a row by a combined 47 points, have to figure out some way to break the relentless Arkansas press that’s going to be thrown at them all night. If they don’t, well, not many of us will be surprised.

But if MSU is able to hang in there and have a shot at the end, that would speak well of Ray’s coaching. Not that getting blown out means he isn’t a good coach, but the lack of tools he has to work with is well-documented. It would be quite the feat for such a young, undermanned MSU team to pull off the upset in Fayetteville.

If you missed it earlier, here’s my game advance from today’s Journal. Also, below you can find the scouting report I put together.

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MSU at Arkansas

Tip: 8 p.m., Bud Walton Arena (19,200)

TV: CSS, ESPN3.com

Radio: MSU Network; Sirius 135; XM 200.

Series: Arkansas leads, 28-25.

Last year: Arkansas, 98-88 in Fayetteville; MSU, 79-59 in Starkville.

Coaches – MSU: Rick Ray, 7-9 (first season); Arkansas: Mike Anderson, 229-118 overall (11th season), 29-20 at Arkansas (second season).

Notes: MSU has won seven of the last 10 meetings with Arkansas. … Arkansas is second in the SEC in scoring at 78.6 ppg. … State is 0-8 this season when trailing at halftime. … Arkansas is 10-1 at home this season. … MSU is sixth in the league in blocked shots (4.4 per game).

MSU (7-9, 2-2 SEC)

Probable starters Pts Rebs Also

G Trivante Bloodman 6-0 So. 5.9 3.4 2.8a

G Jalen Steele 6-3 Jr. 6-3 Jr. 11.1 3.3 39%3s

G Craig Sword 6-3 Fr. 9.6 3.0 40%FG

F Colin Borchert 6-8 Jr. 6.8 4.7 75%FT

C Gavin Ware 6-9 Fr. 8.0 7.1 52%FG

Key reserves

F Roquez Johnson 6-7 So. 10.8 4.9 40%FG

G Fred Thomas 6-5 Fr. 10.3 3.5 73%FT

G Tyson Cunningham 6-3 Jr. 2.5 2.8 1.4a

Key numbers

• Scoring average: 61.6

• Scoring defense: 63.9

• Field goal%: 40.8

• Opponent FG%: 40.9

• 3-point%: 27.7

• Opponent 3PT%: 35.1

• Free throw%: 66.9

• Opponent FT%: 62.3

• Rebound margin: –0.7

• Turnover margin: –0.6

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Arkansas (11-6, 2-2 SEC)

Probable starters Pts Rebs Also

G B.J. Young 17.2 4.4 4.2a

G Rickey Scott 6-3 Jr. 4.9 2.2 1.7a

G Fred Gulley III 6-2 Jr. 1.6 1.8 29%FG

F Marshawn Powell 6-7 Jr. 15.2 5.6 44%3s

F Hunter Mickelson 6-10 So. 7.2 4.5 1.5b

Key reserves

G Mardracus Wade 6-2 Jr. 7.2 1.4 1.7s

F Coty Clarke 6-7 Jr. 6.6 5.1 75%FT

G Rashad Madden 6-5 So. 4.6 2.4 56%FG

Key numbers

• Scoring average: 78.6

• Scoring defense: 68.9

• Field goal%: 45.7

• Opponent FG%: 41.8

• 3-point%: 31.3

• Opponent 3PT%: 33.5

• Free throw%: 68.1

• Opponent FT%: 64.7

• Rebound margin: –1.0

• Turnover margin: +5.8

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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