It has been five years since Mississippi State has won three straight games in the Southeastern Conference.
After last week’s victories over Vanderbilt and Alabama, the Bulldogs will have a chance to pick up a third consecutive win as they travel to Texas A&M today at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
“We’ve won five of our last nine games and as I look at it that’s a real positive,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “We’re playing better here later in the year. I just wish we could have won a couple of those early games at Florida or the (Texas) A&M game at home, so hopefully we’ll play well.”
The Aggies got the better of the first exchange on Jan. 6, squeaking out a 61-60 win in Starkville. Texas A&M knocked down nine 3-pointers in that contest and received 11 points each from D.J. Hogg, Jalen Jones and Alex Caruso.
The Bulldogs played zone defense exclusively in the previous match-up but Howland hopes to be able to play man-to-man against Texas A&M this time around.
“We played all zone in that game and in this game coming up we’ll play man-to-man primarily if our depth will allow us to,” Howland said.
State is uncertain if it will have freshman guard Malik Newman available tonight. Newman, who scored 14 points in the previous game against the Aggies, missed the Alabama game due to back stiffness.
“It remains to be seen what his status will be for this week,” Howland said. “That may force us to play some zone.”
Howland hopes that switching to a man defense will help his team be in a better position to rebound this time around against Texas A&M. In the earlier game, the Aggies outrebounded Mississippi State 41-34 overall including a 20-10 differential on the offensive glass.
The Bulldogs are 12-14 overall and 5-9 in SEC play. Senior forward Gavin Ware continues to lead the Bulldogs with 15.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and tops the conference shooting 62.5 percent from the field.
Texas A&M (20-7, 9-5 SEC) is also on a two-game winning streak after losing four straight. Jones leads the Aggies averaging 16 points per game followed closely by Danuel House, who missed the previous game against MSU, with 15.4.
Tonight’s game will feature the SEC Co-Freshmen of the Week. Bulldog guard Quinndary Weatherspoon shared the honor with Texas A&M center Tyler Davis.
The Aggies lead the overall series against State 5-3 and are 2-0 in games played in College Station.