Mississippi State Basketball: Aric Holman Coming Off the Bench Makes Bulldogs Thrive

Aric Holman Has Come Off the Bench in the Last 5 Games for Mississippi State Basketball

Prior to the game against LSU in the SEC Tournament for Mississippi State basketball, Aric Holman  had only come off the bench in one game this season. In his career, Holman has started in 58 of the 89 games that he has played in. But a recent trend has changed that some.

Beginning in Mississippi State’s trip to Saint Louis for the SEC Tournament, Holman has come off the bench in five consecutive games. He hasn’t started since MSU’s horrific loss to LSU in Baton Rouge.

And yet, Mississippi State and Aric Holman have thrived since he has gone to the bench.

Yes, the Bulldogs lost to Tennessee in a heartbreaker, but Mississippi State contended with the Vols for the entirety of the game. And that was after losing Nick Weatherspoon in a very concerning injury. Prior to that, MSU avenged that loss to LSU and beat the Tigers in Saint Louis.

Now, the Bulldogs are on a three game winning streak and are fresh off a historic dismantling of Louisville on the Cardinals’ own court. Moving Holman to the bench has contributed greatly to that and it has made him a far more efficient player.

Aric Holman’s Increased Efficiency

Throughout the entirety of this year, Aric Holman has averaged 10.9 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s hit 57.5% of his shots and is making 44% of his three point attempts. Those are all career highs for the junior forward from Kentucky.

In the past 5 games, Holman is scoring 12.4 points per game. He’s done that by making 22 of his 40 shots, which is slightly down from his overall shooting percentage at 55%. That said, his three point percentage is up in that short time frame to 54.5%.

On the glass, Holman has been a force that not many can match up against. Aric is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game over the past 5 games. For the season, Holman averages 2.1 offensive rebounds per game.

From the bench in the post season, he’s averaged 3 offensive boards per game. He had 7 against Nebraska in the opening round of the NIT, his second highest total for this season.

On top of all of that, Holman is blocking 3.2 shots per game while coming from the bench. That is almost double his per game average for the year.

Aric Holman has been thriving in a role in which he plays fewer minutes. So far this postseason, he’s scoring more points, blocking more shots, and pulling down more rebounds. This move to the bench has helped him. And it has helped others around him too.

Xavian Stapleton Has Experienced Benefits Too

But it isn’t just Holman’s stats that have improved since his move to the bench. With Holman not starting, Xavian Stapleton has moved into the starting lineup. And now Stapleton has been performing incredibly well for the Bulldogs.

This season, Stapleton is averaging a per game average of 6.6 points per game. Over the past 5 games since his move into the starting lineup, he’s put up an average of 8.2 points per game. And in the past 3 games during MSU’s run in the NIT, Stapleton is excelling, scoring 13 points per game.

Many fans on twitter have been frustrated with Stapleton’s temper and his tendency to get fouls this season, but he’s been far more productive over the past 5 games and has contributed heavily in the past 3 wins for Mississippi State. With Holman on the bench and Stapleton starting, both players are better. And it looks like the team is potentially better as well.

MSU is now thriving and will look to continue to do so going forward. They’ll face Penn State in the NIT Semifinals. If the Bulldogs can continue to follow this new formula that has enabled them to get this far, they could ride momentum all the way to the NIT Championship game.

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