Saturday’s contest between Mississippi State and Auburn was one of those games where one stat tells you everything. The Bulldogs shot a putrid 33.8% from the floor, including a number of misses from inside the paint, and as a result, fell to the top ranked Tigers 80-68 before a crowd of 8447 at the Humphrey Coliseum. State got double doubles from Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard, and nearly another one from Abdul Ado who compiled an incredible nine blocked shots, but the starting backcourt of Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter shot a combined 7-29, with Carter 1-11 on his own. MSU led by as many as 9 in the first half, but Auburn took a five point lead into the halftime locker room, and led by as many as 11 in the middle of the second half before finally pulling away on the free throw line in the game’s closing moments. State falls to 9-4 on the season, and are 0-1 in SEC play.
PHYSICALITY IN THE FIRST HALF
.@HailStateMBK's Abdul Ado said NOPE ❌ pic.twitter.com/44Bi1sLY1h
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 4, 2020
The term “letting them play” was in full effect Saturday, as both squads hit the floor early and often. The physical play seem to favor the Bulldogs in the early going, as State pushed out to an 18-9 lead in the opening minutes. Auburn was able to take control directly after that, that despite shooting 0-11 from behind the three point line. State only regained the lead at 22-21, then trailed the Tigers the rest of the way, getting as close as 2 in the second half but never able to come all the way back.
FRONTCOURT SHINES FOR MSU
Really impressive take by Reggie Perry. Quick exploding out of the cross, off-hand finish through contact. Nice coordination pic.twitter.com/PF36IEBGbP
— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) January 4, 2020
Coming off a career game against Kent State, Reggie Perry kept piling up numbers, putting 21 points and 12 rebounds on the board, while his fellow sophomore Robert Woodard added 12 and 12. State’s frontcourt has really come into its own the past few weeks, and any kind of support from the guards would have set the stage for a huge upset win. Coach Ben Howland will continue to find ways to let his post players lead the way, but the backcourt must show up for the Bulldogs to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Let the fun begin! It's our @SEC season opener!
📍 Gainesville, Fla.
📺: ESPN2 | https://t.co/sTPTglSfKJ#RollTide pic.twitter.com/4a4adqvecn
— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) January 4, 2020
Mississippi State travels to Tuscaloosa for the first road game of SEC play, a place they haven’t won since 2016. It will be Ben Howland’s first matchup with new Alabama head coach Nate Oats, tipoff is set for 6 PM at the Coleman Coliseum.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics