Following the best shooting performance of the season on Tuesday, the Bulldogs shot 9.5% in the first half and could not recover for a 61-41 loss at Arkansas (18-5, 7-3 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Looking for the first 3 game SEC winning streak in the Rick Ray era, Mississippi State (11-12, 4-6 SEC) could not overcome the 24 turnovers and ice-cold 1st half shooting. After tying the game at 7 on a Gavin Ware jumper with 14:40 to play in the 1st half, the Bulldogs would not make another field goal and only score 2 more points in the half. This enormous drought allowed Arkansas to go on a 23-2 run to end the half and coast throughout the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs improved to shoot 50% in the 2nd half and out score Arkansas 32-31 in the half but the hole dug in the 1st half was far too great to over come.
After a stretch since the Texas A&M game of 7 straight competitive games, it was obviously disappointing to watch us play the way we did in the 1st half. The Bulldogs seemed to revert back to the stretch of non-conference games when there was no poise on the offensive end of the floor. On all of the possessions in the 1st half, the constant pressure we all knew Arkansas would play gave the Bulldogs fits and Mississippi State was never able to figure it out. 24 turnovers is far too many if you want to win on the road and is just asking for disaster against an always-pressuring Razorbacks team.
As bad as the 1st half was for Mississippi State, the 2nd half did leave you with some positives moving forward. Gavin Ware founds his offensive game and finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. On a day when nothing was going right, Ware gave the Bulldogs their only offensive production. Secondly, even though it was a 20 point loss, it could have been a lot worse. The Bulldogs held the Razorbacks to their season low point total in Bud Walton Arena. When the offense was non-existent, the Bulldogs’ defense kept this one from being an embarrassment.
What happens next for Mississippi State will be very important. We knew it would be tough to go into Arkansas and come out with a victory. It was a little less competitive than everyone would have liked but not unexpected. That makes the Bulldogs upcoming game against Alabama very critical. The Bulldogs will be back at home in Humphrey Coliseum and will have the opportunity to get back on track after the hiccup today. A home game against Alabama is a very winnable game if the Bulldogs play well and a win would right the ship after today’s loss and get the confidence back that the team has been playing with. Tip for that game is set for 8:00 PM and will be televised on the SEC Network. Let’s pack the Hump and give our team the home court advantage Tuesday night.