Mississippi State was able to snap a 16-game SEC losing streak with a 57-54 home win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 17.
Rick Ray and the Bulldogs are hoping to end their most recent four-game skid traveling to Nashville to face the Commodores once again tonight at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.
MSU fell to 12-17 and 5-11 in conference play with its latest 81-68 loss at South Carolina on Saturday. The Bulldogs currently sit 12th in the league with two games remaining in the regular season.
“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult situation and are trying to avoid playing on the first day in the SEC Tournament,” Ray said. “Now its a situation where we have to win our last two remaining games and get help from someone else. I thought if we had won at South Carolina we could’ve controlled our own destiny but now we’ve got to get ready for a good Vanderbilt team.”
State was able to rally from a 12-point deficit in the previous meeting with the Commodores. I.J. Ready knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key in the final minute to give the Bulldogs the victory.
Mississippi State has had minimal success inside Memorial Gym. The Bulldogs are just 9-45 in games played on the Commodores campus including a 55-49 loss there last year.
However, the last four meetings inside Memorial Gym have been nail biters, having been decided by a total of 11 points with two going into overtime. The Bulldogs last win there was a 78-77 overtime victory in 2012.
Vandy is 17-12 overall and 7-9 in the conference and currently holds the No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament.
The Commodores have won three straight over Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama thanks in part to their stellar 3-point shooting. Kevin Stallings‘ squad has drained 34 of its 68 shots from the perimeter over the last three outings led by Luke Kornet, who is 11-of-15 behind the arc during that span.
“I think those guys can really shoot the basketball,” Ray said. “Kevin Stallings’ philosophy is to go out and recruit perimeter guys who can make shots. Then you have a guy like Damian Jones who can score with his back to the basket. It puts you in a situation where you have to pick your poison.”
Vanderbilt jacked up 20 3-pointers during its previous contest with the Bulldogs but only made five. Jones did the damage inside scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
The Commodores currently lead the league in 3-point percentage at 38.3-percent and have five players on the roster shooting above 38-percent behind the arc for the season.