Mississippi State (13-11) at Auburn (11-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 1:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Auburn Arena (9,121) -- Auburn, Alabama. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: MSU 11-4, Auburn 10-4. Away Record: MSU 0-6, Auburn 1-6. Neutral Record: MSU 2-1, Auburn 0-1. Conference Record: MSU 3-8, Auburn 3-8. Series Record: Auburn leads, 72-67.
GAME NOTES: Both the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers will attempt to halt their respective losing streaks on Saturday afternoon when the SEC foes meet up at Auburn Arena.
Although Mississippi State still boasts a positive 13-11 overall record this season, it has been floundering in recent weeks with six straight losses to dip to just 3-8 in SEC action. The Bulldogs' most recent loss was arguably their worst of the season, as they were embarrassed on their home floor on Wednesday night versus Georgia, 75-55, and now they head back out on the road, where they've gone winless in six tries.
After starting its SEC slate of games with six straight losses, Auburn righted the ship with three wins in a row only to fall back with two consecutive losses. The Tigers couldn't handle nationally-ranked Kentucky at home on Wednesday, losing 64-56 to drop to 11-11 overall and 3-8 in the league.
Mississippi State bested Auburn in Starkville back on Jan. 22, 82-74. The Tigers still lead the all-time series, 72-67.
The Bulldogs appeared poised to snap their losing streak early in their most recent tilt, as they opened up a 22-8 lead in the first 10 minutes, but Georgia closed out the first half on a 20-5 run to take a lead into intermission and eventually pulled away by as many as 23 late in the game. Mississippi State shot a lowly 33.9 percent from the field on the evening, including a dreadful 3-of-25 from 3-point range, while UGA was on fire from the floor (.543). Craig Sword was the only player to finish in double figures in the loss with 10 points.
MSU's offensive attack was been lackluster all season long, as it shoots 44.1 percent from the field for just 67.2 ppg, which isn't enough to support its solid scoring defense (68.8 ppg). It sports poor percentages from 3-point range (.299) and the foul line (.650) and gets outrebounded by 1.9 boards per outing. Sword paces the squad with 13.0 ppg while swiping 2.0 spg as well. Gavin Ware is a mainstay in the frontcourt with 10.5 ppg (on 59.8 percent shooting) and 7.6 rpg, while Colin Borchert (9.6 ppg), Roquez Johnson (9.0 ppg) and Fred Thomas (8.4 ppg) have also been solid.
The Tigers pieced together a valiant effort against the mighty Wildcats earlier in the week and even held a three-point lead midway through the second half, but they lost control down the stretch, getting outscored over the final 7:34, 23-14. They held UK to just 30.9 percent shooting, but they couldn't take advantage with their own field-goal attempts (.327) and lost possessions by getting outrebounded, 49-36. Chris Denson did his best to lift the team to victory by pouring in 26 points on 8-of-18 from the floor and 9-of-11 at the foul line, but no one else scored in double figures.
Scoring points has come rather easy for Auburn this season, as it shoots 44.7 percent from the field for 73.1 ppg, but its downfall comes on the opposite end of the floor, where it ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring defense at 71.6 ppg. Denson is the league's leading scorer with 20.5 ppg, while shooting 48.4 percent from the field, and over the last five games his production has jumped up to 26.0 ppg. KT Harrell is an outstanding second option with 18.9 ppg on 50-of-135 from 3-point range (.370) and 95-of-112 at the foul line (.848). Asauhn Dixon-Tatum isn't much for scoring (5.7 ppg) but he mans the frontcourt with 6.0 rpg and 2.0 bpg.
With Mississippi State's season spiraling out of control, it simply can't be trusted, especially on the road against a Tigers squad that has gone 10-4 at Auburn Arena.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 77, Mississippi State 68
02/15 10:40:26 ET