Mississippi State coach Rick Ray made a lineup change prior to the Florida State game on Jan. 2 which resulted in a 62-55 upset win over the Seminoles.
Ray has maintained the same starting five during the Bulldogs first two conference outings but has not produced the same results, scoring a season-low 47 points in losses to both Tennessee and Florida.
The third year coach plans to make revisions to that lineup as MSU travels to Texas A&M at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.
“We have to insert a starting lineup that gives us the best chance to get off to a good start on both the offensive and defensive end,” Ray said. “We’re going to continue to search for that. Me, more so than anybody, wants a consistent starting lineup and consistent rotation but in order for that to happen the players have to be consistent.”
During the Bulldogs 0-2 start in conference play, their starters have scored just 32 points. Only one of those 32 points came from the freshman frontcourt duo of Oliver Black and Fallou Ndoye.
“We have to find a lineup that actually gives us a balance to go to that we can score,” Ray said. “That’s the problem for us right now. We don’t have an inside presence in our starting lineup to get the ball with their backs to the basket or finish inside.”
All three of State’s leading scorers – Fred Thomas (10.3 ppg), Roquez Johnson (10.3 ppg) and Gavin Ware (10.2 ppg) – have began the last three outings on the bench.
The Bulldogs (7-8) have gone into overtime in two of the last three meetings with Texas A&M. The two teams split last year’s outings with Mississippi State winning 81-72 in overtime in Starkville and the Aggies exacting revenge in College Station, 72-52. The overall series is tied 3-3.
Texas A&M (9-5, 0-2) is coming off a 70-64 home loss to top-ranked Kentucky in double overtime on Saturday.
Junior guard Danuel House paces the Aggies averaging 12.6 points while fellow junior guard Alex Caruso is dishing out an SEC-leading 6.1 assists per game.