Vanderbilt preview

Senior guard Isaiah Butler was placed on scholarship last week. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Senior guard Isaiah Butler was placed on scholarship last week. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

It could be a record-setting day for Mississippi State but not one the Bulldogs necessarily want to be a part of.

MSU will try to avoid losing its 17th straight Southeastern Conference game hosting Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

Wednesday’s 74-70 setback at Texas A&M handed the Bulldogs their 16th consecutive regular season loss in league play dating back to Jan. 22, 2014 against Auburn. State also lost 16 straight during the 1945-46 and 1981-82 campaigns.

The Bulldogs (7-9, 0-3) knocked down a season-best 10 3-pointers in their last outing against the Aggies but a few defensive lapses pushed Mississippi State’s road losing skid to 22.

“We were two big steps away from being successful defensively,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “Our help-side rotation was always late. Every time we allowed them to get the ball into the paint, if we would have taken two big steps over on that help-side rotation, we wouldn’t have put ourselves in harm’s way with the fouls. If we can correct that, we can have some success in this league.”

The Bulldogs last victory against an SEC opponent came against Vanderbilt, winning 82-68 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta last year. Craig Sword sparked State with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting in that contest.

The two teams split their games last year with the Commodores coming out on top 55-49 in Nashville during the regular season.

Vandy has dominated the overall series 76-46 but the Bulldogs hold the edge in Humphrey Coliseum, 31-23.

The Commodores and coach Kevin Stallings cruised to a 41-point victory during their previous trek to Starkville in 2013.

Today’s crowd will be filled with former players and coaches as part of the Bulldogs third annual Alumni Weekend. To commemorate the event, State will don special throwback uniforms for the game.

Senior forward Roquez Johnson and junior guard Fred Thomas continue to pace the team scoring 10.4 points per game and are the only two Bulldogs averaging double figures.

Vanderbilt (11-5, 1-2) is reeling after back-to-back losses at Arkansas 82-70 and Georgia 70-67 at home. The Commodores start three freshmen including the conference’s top rookie scorer in guard Riley LaChance, who averages 13.4 points per game.

Sophomore center Damian Jones is Vandy’s leading scorer with 15.7 points and averaged 14.5 points against the Bulldogs last year.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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