Mississippi State basketball preview: Bulldogs set for Gotham Classic clash with Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Chris Jans and his Mississippi State basketball team are on the road to New Jersey as the Bulldogs get set to meet up with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Gotham Classic.

Dec 13, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans gives
Dec 13, 2023; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans gives / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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With the holiday break looming, Chris Jans and his Mississippi State basketball team are on the road, ready to meet up with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Mississippi State men’s basketball team is taking part in the Gotham Classic in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday at 11 a.m. 

While this game is in New Jersey (the home state of the Scarlet Knights), it’s technically a neutral site contest as it takes place in the Prudential Center (which happens to be the home of the New Jersey Devils hockey team).

Jans and the MSU Bulldogs are heading into this game against a Big Ten foe with a respectable 9-2 record as State is fresh off of a dominant 72-54 win over the North Texas Mean Green. And though the Bulldogs haven’t been perfect, Jans’ Mississippi State basketball team has done well when playing away from the Hump this season as the Bulldogs are able to boast a 5-0 neutral site record. 

When discussing the game, Jans noted that the upcoming matchup presented a pretty interesting test for the Bulldogs.

“Yeah, it’s going to be quite the challenge, we knew that when we scheduled it,” Jans explained.

He took it a step further, complimenting all that Rutgers has accomplished in recent seasons. 

Mississippi State basketball vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Gotham Classic preview

And of course, Jans also made sure to compliment the combination of size, defense, experience, and depth that the Scarlet Knights bring to the table.

"They got great size, they protect the rim at an elite level, they got some dynamic scoring to go along with it and they're getting healthier," he said.

That creates a tough test for the Bulldogs. The Scarlet Knights come into the game with a 7-3 record and are looking to get some momentum ahead of getting Big Ten play started. With a foe like the MSU Bulldogs, Rutgers will be taking on a team that is respectable, talented, and experienced, but still not perfect.

So this is a good test for both of these programs.

The Bulldogs will bring a balanced scoring attack and one of the SEC’s tougher defenses to town, but Mississippi State will need to figure out how to match up with Rutgers’ center Clifford Omoruyi, who is posting 11.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and a whopping 3.7 blocks per contest.

With Tolu Smith still sidelined, Jimmy Bell Jr. has helped fill the void, but this will be one of the toughest matchups that the Bulldogs will have in the front court up to this point of the season.