GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies will attempt to remain perfect in SEC action on Saturday night when they head to Humphrey Coliseum for a road test against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Texas A&M has gotten off to a 3-0 start in the SEC and has won four straight overall to improve to a stellar 12-4 overall. The Aggies most recently hosted South Carolina on Wednesday night and came away with a 75-67 triumph.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, has slipped up in two of three league bouts, including an 80-61 setback at Alabama on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are still an impressive 11-5 overall this season, and they have had great success at home, winning nine of 10 in Starkville.
The all-time series between Texas A&M and Mississippi State is knotted up at two games apiece. The Aggies won the lone matchup a season ago, 55-49 in overtime at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Aggies trailed for much of their contest earlier in the week against South Carolina but used a 7-0 run late in the second half to take control of the contest for good on their way to an eight-point victory. They shot a lofty 55 percent from the field and forced South Carolina into 17 turnovers, and while their free-throw percentage was disappointing (.585), they still outscored their opponent from the line, 24-16. Jamal Jones was the catalyst with a game- high 22 points, while Shawn Smith and Davonte Fitzgerald were both effective off the bench with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
On the season, Texas A&M has been held back at times by a poor offensive attack, as it ranks last in the SEC in putting up just 69.1 ppg. However, to make up for its offensive shortcomings it plays outstanding defense, ranking second in the league in allowing just 60.2 ppg. Jones has largely been off the mark with his field goal tries (.384), but he has a team-high 35 3-pointers and pours in 11.6 ppg. Kourtney Roberson is a much more efficient shooter (.602) and is an anchor in the paint with 10.0 ppg and 7.4 rpg.
The Bulldogs were overmatched on the road their last time out, as they were outshot from the field, 52.6 percent to 44 percent, and lost both the rebounding (33-28) and turnover (14-11) battles on their way to a 19-point loss. Gavin Ware was stellar in spite of the setback, as he shot 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line for 18 points. Craig Sword finished with 12 points but also hurt his team with five turnovers.
Mississippi State places in the bottom half of the SEC in both scoring offense (70.1 ppg) and scoring defense (68.1 ppg), but it still enjoys positive margins in terms of scoring (+2.0) and turnovers (+2.4). The team has its share of weaknesses as well, as it is outrebounded by one board per game and sports underwhelming percentages from 3-point range (.291) and the foul line (.656). Sword (14.5 ppg) and Ware (10.9 ppg) are both productive scorers, with each making field goals at greater than 52 percent efficiency, while Ware also collects 8.8 rpg. Colin Borchert (10.0 ppg) and Roquez Johnson (9.6 ppg) are regular contributors as well.
Texas A&M has been the more impressive team of late, but it'll have a tough task heading into Humphrey Coliseum, where Mississippi State has been outstanding. It should be a battle wire-to-wire, but figure for the Bulldogs to come out on top.
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