By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
MSU lost at Alabama on Wednesday, 64-56, but was encouraged by how tough it played, cutting a 12-point deficit to four late in the game.
That performance didn’t carry over to Saturday, though, as Vanderbilt came to Starkville and earned a dominating 72-31 win.
It tied for the second-worst loss in Humphrey Coliseum history, one-point shy of the 42-point setback MSU suffered to Missouri on Feb. 13.
State must travel to Kentucky (19-10, 10-4), which is coming off an important 90-83 win over Missouri on Saturday and is fighting for an NCAA tournament berth. After that, it’s back home to host rival Ole Miss, which beat MSU on Feb. 6 by a score of 93-75.
No single player had two good games last week, but Jalen Steele came the closest. The junior guard returned from a three-game suspension to score 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting at Alabama, then had a team-high nine points on 2-of-10 shooting against Vandy.
Freshman guard Craig Sword has totaled 12 points his last two games, making just 4 of 16 shots, including 0 of 5 from 3-point range. He’s also committed six turnovers.
MSU’s RPI rank took an 11-point drop this week, to 242nd, sandwiched between Tennessee Tech and Sacred Heart. Looking ahead to this week’s opponents, Kentucky’s RPI rank is 44th, while Ole Miss checks in at 57th.
This is turning into a historically bad season for MSU, and it’s no secret that the big culprits are inexperience, low numbers and the by-product of those two things: fatigue.