By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
– Looking back: The Bulldogs let Tay Waller get loose too often in an 89-80 loss at Auburn on Wednesday.
Waller had been hot of late, but what was more surprising in the last game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum was the fact that Auburn got such solid inside play as forward Brendan Knox had 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
Dee Bost led the Bulldogs with 25 points.
On Saturday, No. 16 Tennessee blitzed the Bulldogs with a 17-0 start. State outscored the Vols 59-58 the rest of the way, but the fast start was enough for a 75-59 Tennessee win.
The Vols had five players in double figures, led by J.P. Prince with 16.
– Looking ahead: The Bulldogs are the West No. 1 seed and will play in the SEC tournament Friday at 6:30 against the winner of Thursday’s Auburn-Florida game.
– Who’s hot: Guard Dee Bost had 25 points at Auburn. He was 8-for-13 from the floor, 5-for-9 from the arc and shot the Bulldogs into contention after they trailed by nine at the break. Against Tennessee, Bost had 11 points and six assists and played 35 minutes in spite of sustaining a hip-pointer in a first-half collision. He was injected with pain killer at halftime.
– Who’s not: Guard Ravern Johnson, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, had 16 points at Auburn, but was just 2-for-8 from 3-pointer range and just 3-for-13 from the arc for the week. He was held to five points on 2-for-11 shooting against Tennessee.
– RPI watch: Mississippi State heads to Nashville with an RPI of 69.
– Bottom line: The sins in defeat at Auburn could have been forgiven with a home win over Tennessee.
A 10-6 SEC record with quality win in pocket might have been enough to get the Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens in Nashville.
Instead, MSU went from the West’s hot team to losing its last two and sharing the division title with rival Ole Miss. The RPI is such that MSU likely has to win the SEC tournament to get into the NCAA tournament.