Mississippi State (7-9) at Arkansas (11-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bud Walton Arena (19,368) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: CSS. Home Record: MSU 6-2, Arkansas 11-1. Away Record: MSU 0-4, Arkansas 0-3. Neutral Record: MSU 1-3, Arkansas 0-2. Conference Record: MSU 2-2, Arkansas 2-2. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 28-25.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Arkansas Razorbacks both attempt to rebound from losses when the SEC rivals meet at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Wednesday night.
After winning three straight games to start the new year, Mississippi State has lost its last two by a combined 57 points, most recently getting blown out by Tennessee on the road last weekend, 72-57. The Bulldogs' current slide has them at 7-9 overall and 2-2 in league play.
Arkansas also faced a difficult road test last Saturday as it suffered a 76-64 defeat at the hands of Ole Miss, thus halting an impressive run of seven wins in its previous eight games. All 11 of the Razorbacks' victories have come on their home floor, and they are 0-5 everywhere else.
Mississippi State has had the Razorbacks' number in recent years, winning seven of the last nine matchups, but Arkansas still holds a 28-25 series advantage.
Mississippi State has one of the worst offenses in the SEC this season, as it shoots just 40.8 percent from the field for an average of 61.6 ppg. It scored less than that figure for the 10th time last Saturday in its 25-point loss to Tennessee. The Bulldogs made just 21-of-56 field goal attempts in the setback (.375), although Jalen Steele (15 points), Fred Thomas (14 points) and Craig Sword (10 points) all had solid outings. After missing eight games in November and December, Steele has been a welcomed addition to the lineup as he leads the team with 11.1 ppg. Roquez Johnson nets 10.8 ppg, although his assist-to- turnover ration (6-to-39) is poor to say the least. Thomas adds 10.3 ppg, but he too is a detriment with poor percentages from the field overall (.333), as well as 3-point range (.263). As a team, MSU ranks last in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage at just .277, but despite the oftentimes horrendous offensive attack, the team can hang its hat on solid defensive play as it allows an average of 63.9 ppg.
Arkansas was able to hold the high-powered Ole Miss Rebels to a lackluster 40 percent shooting effort last Saturday, but it could not take advantage when it had the ball, as it shot only 26-of-66 (.394) and committed 19 turnovers. Marshawn Powell paced the squad in defeat with 16 points, while B.J. Young added 14 points and five assists, and Hunter Mickelson tacked on 10 points and eight rebounds. The Razorbacks are usually pretty sound at the offensive end, shooting nearly 46 percent from the field for 78.6 ppg, but their downfall has come on defense where they allow the league's second-most points per game (68.9). Young is one of the SEC's best guards, as he ranks in the top-five in both scoring (17.2 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg), while knocking down 47 percent of his total shots. Powell rounds out a terrific scoring duo with 15.2 ppg, while also ripping down a team-best 5.6 ppg. Mardracus Wade and Mickelson are also steady performers with 7.2 ppg apiece, with the latter adding 1.5 bpg as well.
With Mississippi State's poor record on the road (0-4) matched up against Arkansas and its incredible run at Bud Walton Arena, this one has the potential to get out of hand early.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 80, Mississippi State 60
01/23 10:39:59 ET