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Auburn (9-21) at Mississippi State (8-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Humphrey Coliseum (10,500) -- Starkville, Mississippi. Television: FSN. Home Record: Auburn 7-10, MSU 6-7. Away Record: Auburn 1-8, MSU 1-11. Neutral Record: Auburn 1-3, MSU 1-3. Conference Record: Auburn 3-14, MSU 3-14. Series Record: Mississippi State leads, 72-65.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers meet at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, with the loser finishing the regular season in last place in the SEC standings.
Auburn's disappointing season (9-21, 3-14 SEC) has reached new lows in recent weeks, as it is currently riding a season-long, eight-game losing streak. The Tigers most recently dropped a home matchup with Tennessee on Wednesday (82-75), and now they finish up the season on the road where they are just 1-8.
Mississippi State has been equally futile this season, sitting at 8-21 overall and 3-14 in conference. The Bulldogs recently snapped a 13-game losing streak by claiming a 73-67 win over rival Ole Miss last Saturday, but they fell back to their losing ways on Wednesday with a 79-72 setback at South Carolina.
Mississippi State leads the all-time series with Auburn, 72-65, although the Tigers won the most recent meeting, 65-55, on Feb. 18, 2012.
Even though Auburn held a brief lead early in the second half, it ultimately closed out its home slate in disappointing fashion with a seven-point defeat to Tennessee. The Tigers were actually rather impressive from the field (.509), but they found themselves in foul trouble all night, getting outscored at the free-throw line, 27-10. After scoring fewer than 10 points in five straight games, Frankie Sullivan bounced back with 24 points, although he committed seven turnovers. Josh Wallace added 14 points in defeat. Auburn has been lackluster at both ends of the floor this season, ranking in the lower- half of the league in both scoring offense (64.7 ppg) and scoring defense (68.5 ppg). Sullivan is the top offensive option with 14.5 ppg, although his percentages from the field overall (.370) and beyond the arc (.274) leave much to be desired. Chris Denson (11.1 ppg) brings a spark off the bench, while Rob Chubb (8.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg) is solid in the trenches.
The Bulldogs put together one of the their best offensive performances of the season the last time out, shooting 51.1 percent from the field, but that effort was spoiled by South Carolina's Brenton Williams, who poured in 38 points to lead the Gamecocks to the seven-point triumph. Craig Sword was fantastic in defeat, shooting 7-of-9 from the field for 20 points, while Jalen Steele (17 points) and Roquez Johnson (12 points) were both impressive in reserve roles. In averaging just 60.1 ppg while allowing a league-worst 69.8 ppg, Mississippi State is the only team in the SEC with a worse scoring margin (-9.7) than Auburn, and it boasts turnover (-1.9) and rebounding (-4.3) margins that rank at or near the bottom of the league as well. Steele (10.1 ppg) and Sword (10.0 ppg) are the only double-digit scorers, although Fred Thomas (9.3 ppg), Johnson (9.0 ppg), Gavin Ware (8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Colin Borchert (8.3 ppg) are all regular contributors.
It's difficult to find the silver lining for either of these teams, although a win here would certainly give either one some momentum heading into the first round of next week's SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs have tasted victory more recently than the Tigers and should be able to take care of business at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 58, Auburn 57
03/09 10:41:12 ET
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