Mississippi State Basketball: Bulldogs Looking to Lock-up Tournament Bid at Texas A&M

Mississippi State basketball travels to College Station Wednesday. Can the Bulldogs punch their ticket to the Big Dance against Texas A&M?

Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Shawn Jones Jr. (5) and
Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Shawn Jones Jr. (5) and / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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Mississippi State basketball (19-10, 8-8 SEC) takes on the Texas A&M Aggies (16-13, 7-9 SEC) in College Station on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs will look to get back on track after back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Auburn, and they'll have to do it against a Texas A&M team that is fighting for its NCAA Tournament life.

The Aggies came into this season as one of the top projected teams in the SEC with hopes of building off of last season's 25-win, NCAA Tournament-appearance season. They spent much of the season as a true "Jekyll and Hyde" team with impressive wins but a few truly baffling losses. But still, just a few weeks ago they looked to be a clear tournament team.

Then A&M went on a five-game losing streak that included a pair of Quad 3 losses to Vanderbilt and Arkansas and blowout defeats to Alabama and Tennessee. The strength of their resume plummeted, and now, even after finally getting a win at Georgia, the Aggies find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble, needing a lot of help if they're going to make the bracket.

If they want any chance of dancing, they have to beat Mississippi State. So if you're the Bulldogs, you have to expect an inspired effort on Wednesday. Let's take a closer look at the matchup...

A look at Texas A&M Aggies basketball

Much of Texas A&M's struggles are a product of having one of the worst shooting offenses in college basketball. They make just 39.2% of their field goals and are a horrendous 26.7% from three. It's impressive that a team that shoots the ball so poorly can manage to score 72.9 points per game (which is not a lot).

What helps the Aggies the most on the offensive end is their offensive rebounding. They're the nation's best in that category, averaging 17.5 offensive boards per game. That creates plenty of second chance opportunities, which they tend to capitalize on. Rebounding in general is the biggest strength of this team. They're merely solid on the defense end, but they don't surrender many second chances to their opponents because of their rebounding prowess.

Most of A&M's scoring comes from their formidable backcourt duo of Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford, who average 18.2 and 15.5 PPG respectively. Both are volume scores (not surprising given A&M's shooting percentages), but they're capable of catching fire. Former Bulldog Andersson Garcia is the best rebounder on a great rebounding team at 9.5 per game.

NCAA Tournament Implications

This game has huge stakes for both Mississippi State and Texas A&M. As discussed, the Aggies need a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. And for Mississippi State, a win would lock the Bulldogs into the Big Dance. At #54 in the NET, A&M presents a Quad 1 road opportunity for MSU. A win would be the final touch on a tournament resume for State.

Matchup History

Mississippi State basketball is 9-9 all-time against Texas A&M. They are 2-5 in College Station, with their last win coming in 2018. Last season in Starkville, Mississippi State defeated a red hot Texas A&M squad 69-62, a critical win for the Bulldogs on their way to the NCAA Tournament.

TV Broadcast

8:00 pm CT on ESPNU

Mississippi State needs one final win to lock-up a bid to March Madness. Minus a bad first half at Auburn, the Bulldogs have been playing great basketball in recent weeks while Texas A&M has been in a free-fall. But State has struggled on the road this season, and this is a desperate Aggies team playing in an arena where they've defeated Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee. State must put forth its best effort Wednesday night.