One of the nation’s toughest defensive teams will host one of the most explosive squads Saturday when Mississippi State welcomes Missouri to Starkville, Miss.
Mississippi State (14-8, 2-7 Southeastern Conference) is allowing just 59.0 points per game, which ranked eighth among NCAA Division I teams in team defense through Thursday.
“They play a style that I think that has produced great defensive numbers,” Missouri coach Dennis Gates said. “Whenever you can do that, you look at what you do offensively as well as defensively. And they do those things.”
Missouri (17-5, 5-4) is averaging 83.3 points per game, which is tied for seventh in the country through Thursday. The Tigers will bring a three-game winning streak to Humphrey Coliseum.
They hit nine 3-point shots in the first eight minutes of their 87-77 victory over LSU on Wednesday. Kobe Brown scored 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting overall and 5-for-6 shooting from behind the arc.
Brown leads the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game.
“Kobe Brown could shoot the leather off the ball,” said Missouri forward Noah Carter, who averages 10 points per game and hit three early 3-pointers in the game. “It’s fun when you can get in rhythms like that. And you know, we play unselfishly and we’ve got shooters on this team that can straight-up shoot the ball.
Mississippi State upset then-No. 11 TCU 81-74 in overtime and won 66-51 at South Carolina in its last two games.
“I thought we had the right mindset and we got the ball inside,” Bulldogs coach Chris Jans said after his team defeated the Gamecocks. “It was good. I was disappointed in the number of turnovers (18) but I am definitely happy we got the win.”
Mississippi State forward Tolu Smith will test Missouri’s interior defense, which struggled before 6-foot-10 Mohamed Diarra worked his way into the playing rotation.
Smith is averaging 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He scored 27 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, dished five assists and blocked four shots in the upset of TCU.
“He’s all-conference guy, there’s no doubt about it,” Gates said of Smith. “Very versatile, has great length, but also great ballhandling ability and he can shoot better than his numbers predict.”
–Field Level Media