Mississippi State Basketball Looks to Complete Season Sweep of Auburn

Mississippi State basketball heads to Auburn with a chance to complete a season sweep against the Tigers. Can the Bulldogs get their first win at Auburn since 2015?

Jan 27, 2024; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Cameron Matthews (4)
Jan 27, 2024; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Cameron Matthews (4) / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State basketball (19-9, 8-7 SEC) travels eastward on Saturday to take on the Auburn Tigers (21-7, 10-5 SEC) at Neville Arena. The Bulldogs will look to complete a season sweep of the Tigers after winning 64-58 in these teams' first meeting in Starkville back in January.

Both teams are in search of bounce-back wins after suffering losses during midweek action. Mississippi State is coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Kentucky while Auburn fell in a high-scoring affair at Tennessee.

This is a fantastic late-season matchup in the SEC, and the stakes are high for Mississippi State basketball. The Bulldogs will look to add another signature victory to their resume and lock up a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

What happened in Game 1 between Mississippi State basketball and Auburn?

Mississippi State basketball defeated the then 8th-ranked Auburn Tigers 64-58 in Starkville on January 27. It was Mississippi State's second top-10 win of the season. The teams played an absolute slugfest of a game. They shot a combined 30% from the floor in the first half and went into the locker room tied at 21. Scoring picked up in the second half, particularly for MSU, but this was a defensive battle all the way to the end.

State held Auburn to 34% shooting overall and 25% from three. The Bulldogs won the game down low, finishing +15 on the boards with a 12-3 second chance points advantage and were +14 on points in the paint. Josh Hubbard led MSU with 17 points, and Cam Matthews had a fantastic day with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

A look at Auburn basketball

The Tigers are an incredibly well-rounded team. #6 overall in KenPom, the Tigers are rated 13th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 6th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They average nearly 83 points per game, making 47% of their shots. Meanwhile they surrender just 68 points per game and boast the nation's 6th best shooting defense at under 39%.

Auburn runs most of its offense through the post with center Johni Broome and forward Jaylin Williams averaging 16.3 and 12.9 respectively. Chad Baker-Mazara is the main option in the backcourt, averaging 10.3 points and shooting 43% from three. He's scored double-figures in seven of AU's last eight games. Denver Jones is another Tiger guard to keep an eye on, as he too has averaged double-figures in that same 8-game stretch.

AU has played strong perimeter defense for most of the season, but despite their strong post presence, they haven't consistently dominated at rebounding. Specifically, they've been susceptible to allowing second-chance opportunities, something Mississippi State took advantage of in the first game.

Tournament implications for Mississippi State basketball

Auburn presents another prime opportunity for Mississippi State basketball with regards to their tournament resume. The Tigers are #7 in the NET, not only making this a Quad 1 game, but a chance at an elite-level road win for a Bulldogs team that's failed to add impressive road wins this season. With a win, Mississippi State would unquestionably lock up a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year.

Matchup Notes

Mississippi State basketball trails the all-time series with Auburn 70-81. The Tigers have had the upper-hand by a significant margin in recent seasons. MSU's earlier win over AU snapped a 5-game losing streak to the Tigers.

State is 24-49 all-time at Auburn with their last win coming in 2015, which is their only win at Auburn since 2008. Neville Arena has become one of the toughest places to play in the entire country. Auburn has lost just once at home this season, that coming to Kentucky two weeks ago.

TV Broadcast

3:00 pm CT on ESPN2

It will be a massive challenge for Mississippi State basketball to walk into Neville Arena and defeat Auburn. The Tigers have been nearly unstoppable at home, and State has not yet shown they can take down a big-time opponent on the road. But despite falling the Kentucky, MSU is playing its best basketball of the season right now. If they can come close to replicating their defensive effort from their first matchup with Auburn and Josh Hubbard can stay hot, they'll have a shot on Saturday.