Saturday’s Mississippi State basketball game technically counts as a neutral site game. It’s technically a game that happened away from two different college basketball home arenas and university campuses. For all intents and purposes on a technicality standpoint, this game didn’t happen in Rutgers’ home arena.
But it’s impossible to say that Rutgers didn’t have an incredible home court advantage from the fact that this game happened within a very brief driving distance from the Rutgers campus.
That’s right, Saturday’s matchup with the Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights happened in New Jersey as part of the Gotham Classic. And Chris Jans and the Mississippi State Bulldogs didn’t exactly have the sort of fan support that Rutgers did in this matchup.
But even though Mississippi State faced a New Jersey crowd that skewed heavily in Rutgers’ direction, Jans and the Bulldogs came away with a 70-60 win over the Scarlet Knights, and that’s pretty impressive.
"I thought our kids did a good job of keeping [the crowd] at bay for the most part," Jans noted during the postgame press conference.
Mississippi State basketball: Chris Jans, Bulldogs overcome rough crowd to beat Rutgers Scarlet Knights in New Jersey
Obviously conventional wisdom said this sort of game would be tough for Mississippi State. As Jans joked in his press conference, he didn’t exactly listen to conventional wisdom when this game was scheduled.
“We knew it would be a huge slant towards Rutgers, but we weren’t playing in their home
arena. I was told by many colleagues not to do that. So, I heeded their advice and agreed to
play in the neutral site game,” Jans said.
So, Mississippi State spent a fair bit of time preparing for this contest. And that includes understanding the sort of dynamic that the Bulldogs got to play in when they faced off against the North Texas Mean Green.
“We played in a similar situation last week against North Texas in Tupelo. It was a ‘neutral site game,’ but there wasn’t much green in the stands," Jans explained.
While this game isn’t the sort of resume boosting non-conference win that would come with playing a true away game, it’s still impressive to see the sort of mental toughness that has to be present in a win like this. The Bulldogs demonstrated that there’s a lot of potential on this roster, even with key players like Tolu Smith and KeShawn Murphy still recovering from injuries.
Chris Jans and his coaching staff deserve a ton of credit for building a pretty dangerous team that can handle Big Ten teams who happen to be supported by local crowds in “neutral” site contests.