Mississippi State comes into Oxford 8-7 (0-1) with an RPI of 235 (just seven spots behind Mississippi Valley State). State's only hope for the NCAA tournament at this point is if they win the SEC tourney-- a tall task for any
team group of five players who appear on the court at the same time.
In State's first game back with Dee Bost, they lost to a relatively strong Alabama team by eighteen. I'm hoping that our players won't overlook the Bulldogs though, since they've won 18 of our last 24 matchups. Bost and Ravern Johnson make it possible for State to beat almost anyone in the conference. If we get complacent we'll lose.
Speaking of Bost, he told a group of reporters recently that:
To me, I feel like there’s going to be many more games we’ll lose probably. You’re not going to win them all.
Lets hope one of the losses predicted by Sweet Dee occurs tonight.
In Bost's first game back from NCAA-mandated suspension (which should have lasted forever), he scored 14 on 5-16 shooting and contributed five assists. I'm sure you've read several stories that harp on how important it is to stop the point guard, so I won't spend time on that here. I'm guessing we'll put Gaskins on him when we have the chance.
Ravern Johnson, someone who doesn't get nearly the pub he should, is averaging nearly 20 points a game and playing 36 minutes as well. He has only registered more than one foul in two games this year, but he doesn't do much statisctially when he doesn't have the ball. Against Alabama, he struggled to make shots, going 3-16 and 2-10 from three. Hopefully he'll be cold against us, but history doesn't suggest that.
Let's talk about Renardo Sidney. The 6-10, 270 pound behemoth has, despite what others might tell you, done an alright job of contributing for a talented player who is really
out of shape fat. He's averaging 11 and 6 so far through three games but struggles with turnovers and fouls too much. A funny stat from Sidney: he has attempted four three pointers through three games. I'm pretty sure the Bulldogs don't want him doing that too much. I'm really hoping Reggie Buckner just dominates Sidney and makes him step out to the line to shoot.
The big to worry about more than Sidney is Kodi Augustus. Augustus has improved from the role player he was last year into a major component of MSU's team. He's averaging 80 percent from the charity stripe as well, so our front court should try to keep him away from easy points.
I don't want to talk too much about our team here, because not much has changed lately, but Terrance Henry is playing excellent basketball right now. He's not averaging a lot of points or even a lot of boards, but when you watch the game, you'll see. He's a difference maker.
Ole Miss 73 - MSU 65
Juco's individual predictions:
1. Nick Williams scores in double digits for the first time in five games.
2. Steadman Short plays 15 minutes or fewer.
3. We win the battle for the boards by eight or more.