By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Last season, Mississippi State lost its third Southeastern Conference game to begin a string of 13 consecutive losses for the Bulldogs.
So far this year, MSU is 11-5 but has yet to lose back-to-back games. Having lost 80-61 at Alabama on Wednesday to fall to 1-2 in SEC play, the Bulldogs are hoping to avoid their first losing streak of the season hosting Texas A&M at 12:30 p.m. today.
“We’ve got to look past that game and just move on to the next game,” said MSU sophomore guard Craig Sword. “That’s something that we didn’t do last year. We’d just stay on that last game every game that we played. Now we move on to the next game and don’t think about the loss.”
An overtime loss to the Aggies included in that 13-game losing skid last season. Texas A&M prevailed 55-49 in Starkville after the Bulldogs squandered a 14-point lead in the second half. State was outscored 8-2 in the overtime period and committed 24 turnovers in the contest.
Guard Fabyon Harris paced the Aggies with 17 points in last year’s outing and is back for his senior season.
The series is tied 2-2 and today’s matchup will be just the second meeting between the two programs at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs are shooting 45.1-percent from the field and averaging 70.1 points per game. Mississippi State has shot 29.1 percent from the outside and 65.6 percent from the charity stripe. Rick Ray’s squad is also second in the league and 14th nationally with 9.2 steals.
“What a job Mississippi State has done getting off to a good start,” said A&M coach Billy Kennedy.
“They got a good win over Ole Miss. I really see that team maturing. I thought they had good young players last year. Coach Ray has done a good job developing those guys in the offseason. They’ve gotten a lot better and are playing with a lot more confidence.”
Sword continues to pace the Bulldogs in scoring (14.4) and has scored in double digits in 14 of the 16 outings this season.
Texas A&M enters today’s game riding a four-game winning streak. The Aggies are 12-4 overall and are off to a perfect 3-0 start to conference play. Kennedy’s club took down South Carolina 75-67 at home Wednesday evening and are currently tied atop the league standings with Florida.
Junior forward Jamal Jones tops A&M scoring 11.6 points and has averaged 19.7 points a game so far in SEC play.
The Aggies lead the league in field goal percentage defense (.384) and are second in scoring defense (60.2).