MSU looks to defend its turf

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State looks to continue its home success tonight against Auburn at 7 p.m.

The game will not be seen on over-the-air TV, but will be shown online at ESPN3.com.

The Bulldogs are 10-1 inside Humphrey Coliseum and 2-0 so far in Southeastern Conference play. MSU has won four straight over Auburn in Starkville and 12 of the last 13 at home.

BORCHERT

BORCHERT

“We made a little pact that we don’t want to lose at home,” said MSU forward Colin Borchert. “We want to stay undefeated at home (in SEC play). I know it’s going to be hard for us to do that because we’ve got some big games coming in here, but to get another win would be outstanding for us. We’re going to play our heart out to try and get that win.”

State claimed last year’s lone meeting 74-71 in overtime in Starkville. Borchert had a double-double performance with 20 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Bulldogs.

“Life on the road in any conference is hard,” said Auburn coach Tony Barbee. “We’re playing a Mississippi State team that’s been playing very, very well at home. They’ve been doing a good job in what they do and what they try and take you out of defensively.”

Mississippi State enters tonight’s game at 12-5 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Bulldogs are coming off an 81-72 overtime victory over Texas A&M on Saturday. Craig Sword scored 23 points to lead MSU while Gavin Ware posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 boards.

The Bulldogs are shooting 45.5 percent from the field and averaging 70.7 points per game. State has hit 29.1 percent from the outside and 65.3 percent from the free throw line. Rick Ray’s squad is currently second in the conference and 12th nationally with 9.3 steals per game.

Sword continues to lead Mississippi State with 15 points while scoring in double figures in all but two games this season. The Bulldogs are not expected to have the services of point guard I.J. Ready for a second straight game after suffering a concussion against Alabama a week ago.

Auburn comes into the game winless in the conference at 0-4 and 8-7 overall. The Tigers dropped a 68-61 decision at home to Florida on Saturday.

Auburn features two of the SEC’s top scorers, senior Chris Denson (19.5) and junior KT Harrell (18.9).

“You’re talking about two guys that are averaging 19 points per game,” Ray said. “They’re first and third in the SEC in scoring and it’s going to be a task for us to contain both guys. Usually you’ll just have one guy on a team that you have to contain but trying to contain two guys on the perimeter is going to be a difficult task.”

The Tigers are shooting 45.3 percent from the floor and averaging 73.6 points. The Tigers are knocking down 33.3 percent of their shots behind the arc.

The Bulldogs lead the series in Starkville, 41-25, but trail in the overall series by six games.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com