While there might not be such a thing as moral victories, the Mississippi State basketball team gave its fans some hope for optimism.
The Mississippi State basketball team traveled to Lexington, KY and lost a hard fought game to the Wildcats 80-74. It’s another loss in a season that has more losses than wins, but it did do the one thing many of the games haven’t done this season. It made us believe better times are on the way.
Despite an almost total roster makeover next season in 2017, the chances far a return trip to the NCAA tournament by the Mississippi State basketball team will be better next season. The team gets a significant boost in talent with a highly rated class in 2016-17, and even if one or two of the players from 2016-17 bolt for the NBA, there will be plenty of talent on the roster for a potential deep tournament run in 2017-18. This is what you do in a rebuild.
But many Bulldog fans want to see something positive for the current group of players. Craig Sword, Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas, and Travis Daniels have endured a lot of losing on this team. Any hope of grabbing an NCAA Tournament berth with a new coach and top rated player were dashed with the mounting of early losses.
When the Mississippi State basketball team traveled to Lexington, KY last night, most of us assumed we’d get stomped by double digits. And on a few occasions it looked as though the Bulldogs might.
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The Bulldogs trailed by double digits on multiple occasions in the first half because Kentucky kept forcing turnovers. Mississippi State cut the lead to eight with a late three by Malik Newman.
Kentucky tried to kill the hopes of Mississippi State basketball fans everywhere with a 14-2 run to start the second half which pushed their lead to 53-33. But from that point, the Bulldogs gave Kentucky all they could handle.
The Bulldogs began to cut out the turnovers and started making shots. The lead would get cut to 74-71, and forced a Kentucky miss on the following possession. The Wildcats got the rebound though, and hit six free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Mississippi State has arguably the toughest stretch of its schedule done. The Bulldogs will be underdogs in most games they play from here on out, but they will only have small chances of victories in trips to Texas A&M and South Carolina. The Mississippi State basketball team should be competitive in the other 13 games outside of those two. The confidence they likely gained in Kentucky will carry them through.
The 2015-16 Mississippi State basketball season won’t end in an NCAA Tournament run unless the Bulldogs were to get hot during the SEC Tournament and win the whole thing. But giving the seniors on this team a happy ending to their careers would be a nice consolation.