BASKETBALL REWIND: No. 23 Mississippi State (15-4, 3-1 SEC)

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.

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