By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – With a sparse crowd helplessly looking on, Mississippi State continued to tread new depths.
The Bulldogs suffered their 12th consecutive loss, falling behind early and suffering yet another blowout at Humphrey Coliseum, this time by a 72-31 count at the hands of Vanderbilt.
After the game, MSU players were saying something needed to change.
“Something’s going to have to change in practice or personnel or something that’s within our system right now, because right now it’s just not working for us,” junior guard Jalen Steele said. “It keeps backfiring for us.”
As far as personnel, there’s little relief in sight. MSU (7-19, 2-12 SEC) is playing with six scholarship players as forward Roquez Johnson remains suspended, and so first-year coach Rick Ray is left with a young team that’s simply getting tired.
“We don’t have any more guys coming in this season, we can’t lessen their playing time, and we can’t stop the season,” Ray said. “So yeah, I believe fatigue is a factor.”
MSU shot 17.5 percent from the field, including 2 of 19 (10.5 percent) from 3-point range, and it was pummeled in the rebounding department, 51-17. Vanderbilt (11-15, 5-9) had 20 offensive rebounds to MSU’s three. The Bulldogs’ four team rebounds were more than any single player had.
Vandy shot 45.9 percent overall and 11 of 31 (35.5 percent) from 3-point range, and Ray lamented his defense’s inability to guard high ball screens. The Commodores had 24 second-chance points, while MSU had zero.
This loss was even more discouraging because just three days earlier, State felt it had played very well in a road loss to Alabama.
“So to come out here and play this way against Vanderbilt was disappointing,” Ray said. “But our guys get wrapped up in their own shots, and when our shots are not going down, then we just don’t do a very good job with the rest of the game.”
Steele led MSU with nine points on 2-of-10 shooting.
no help at home
MSU has lost its last six home games by an average of 26.2 points, and that number includes a six-point loss to Texas A&M and a one-point loss to LSU.
The 31 points was MSU’s lowest output since the shot clock was instituted for the 1985-86 season. The last time State scored so few points was a 42-31 loss to Alabama in the 1985 SEC Tournament.
This showing was very similar to MSU’s previous home game, a 78-36 loss to Missouri. On Saturday, MSU missed its first 10 shots, the first field goal coming at the 8:50 mark on Trivante Bloodman’s layup.
State also missed its first dozen 3-point tries, with Bloodman again breaking the drought, at the 17:34 mark of the second half. Vanderbilt answered with a Kedren Johnson 3-pointer to make it 44-20, and the lead kept growing from there.
Vandy entered averaging 59.6 points per game. The Commodores surpassed that at the 8:39 mark.