By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
– Looking back: MSU played just one game last week, suffering an unsightly 62-57 setback at Alabama on Saturday in front of a CBS audience. It snapped a three-game winning streak for the Bulldogs and came on the heels of returning to the Associated Press rankings, at No. 23. They will no doubt drop right back out.
– Looking ahead: For the second time in SEC play, the Bulldogs have a game Thursday and then another Saturday.
First is a trip to Arkansas for an 8 p.m. showdown on ESPN2. The teams just met Jan. 14 in Starkville, with MSU holding on for an 82-80 win. Then it’s back home against reigning Western Division champ LSU (3 p.m., SEC Network), which is struggling at 9-10, 0-5 in SEC play.
– Who’s hot: Nobody was last week. In the lone game, the “hottest” shooter was Ravern Johnson, who was 4 of 9 overall but 0 of 2 from 3-point range. He entered the game second in the SEC in 3-point percentage (47.0).
– Who’s not: Everyone was ice cold against Alabama, as the Bulldogs recorded season lows in field goal percentage (31.7), 3-point percentage (11.1) and 3-point field goals made (two).
– RPI watch: As high as 44 last week, MSU now ranks 54th and fifth in the SEC.
– Bottom line: Even as it won three in a row, State had some very bad stretches that nearly cost them wins. It all came to a head in Tuscaloosa, and whatever the cause – lack of bench depth, good pressure defense by the opponent, or just an off night shooting – it must be addressed if the Bulldogs hope to fend off Ole Miss in the division race.