Mississippi State was able to bring one negative trend to an end over the weekend with a 57-54 victory against Vanderbilt to halt a 16-game conference losing streak.
Tonight the Bulldogs will be looking to snap their 22-game road losing skid at Auburn at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.
“Coming off the Vandy win, a road win would mean a lot to us,” said MSU forward Gavin Ware. “It would show people how hard we work at practice and how that carries over into the game.”
MSU’s lone road win under coach Rick Ray came in his Southeastern Conference debut against Georgia in January 2013. The Bulldogs are just 1-25 in road games during Ray’s three seasons in Starkville.
State (8-9, 1-3) came up just short on its road trip last week at Texas A&M, 74-70. The Bulldogs buried a season-high 10 3-pointers against the Aggies and hope that a reduction in turnovers will finally produce an elusive road win against the Tigers.
“We’ve had success in halves where we didn’t turn the basketball over,” Ray said. “We didn’t turn the basketball over in the second half against Texas A&M or Vanderbilt. The key for me is now going on the road and taking care of the basketball in the first half against Auburn, a team that will pressure you.”
However winning at Auburn Arena will not be easy. The Tigers are 9-1 at home this season and are currently on a seven-game home winning streak under first-year coach Bruce Pearl.
Mississippi State is 0-3 at Auburn Arena since it opened in 2010.
“We’ve got to go in there and make sure we put ourselves in a situation where we don’t get caught up in the moment of what’s going on with the fan fare,” Ray said. “We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and make sure that we’re executing and just making simple plays.”
The Tigers (10-7, 2-2) are coming off a 71-68 home victory against South Carolina on Saturday.
Auburn’s arsenal features senior guard KT Harrell, who is second in the SEC in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Junior forward Cinmeon Bowers is averaging a double-double with 13.3 points and 11.2 rebounds (leads SEC) while junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller tops the league with 2.2 steals.
The Tigers lead the all-time series 73-67, including a 45-22 mark on the plains.
The two teams split last season’s games with MSU winning 82-74 in Starkville and the Tigers answering with a 92-82 victory in Auburn.
Bulldogs senior guard Trivante Bloodman is averaging 12.3 points in three career games against Auburn and scored 18 in his last outing against the Tigers.