Mississippi State Basketball's Season Ends in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Mississippi State basketball lost to Michigan State in the First Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. What went wrong for the Bulldogs?

March 21, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Josh Hubbard (13) shoots over
March 21, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Josh Hubbard (13) shoots over / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State basketball's 2023-2024 season came to a close on Thursday. The Bulldogs fell in the First Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament to Michigan State, 69-51. Mississippi State finished their season with a 21-14 record.

The Spartans led the game from start to finish, fully controlling things throughout. Even on the handful of occasions where the Bulldogs would get within a couple of possessions, it never truly felt like Michigan State was in any real danger of losing the game.

Mississippi State's offense had arguably it's worst performance of the season. They had their moments of good defense, but they also allowed the Spartan's far too many clean looks. Granted, it's tough to get stops when your own offense has you stuck in transition defense the entire game.

This was simply an all-around poor game for Mississippi State basketball, and it ended their season.

Mississippi State basketball's offense ends year with awful game

Michigan State came into this game rated 9th in KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. It showed against Mississippi State.

The Spartan defense had the Bulldog offense in purgatory. State shot just 37% for the game and 22% from three. Despite having an assumed major advantage down low, State's bigs were practically nonexistent in this game. None of Tolu Smith, Jimmy Bell, or Cam Matthews had the type of performances expected out of them (foul trouble made things more difficult).

After keeping Mississippi State in the game with 13 first half points on five made field goals, Josh Hubbard made just one more shot in second half, finishing with 15 points on 6-18 shooting.

Furthermore, State committed 15 turnovers in the game. Michigan State turned those mistakes into an incredible 29 points. The Bulldogs needed to protect the basketball and get big days from their post players to have success against the Spartans. They did neither.

Mississippi State basketball couldn't slow the Spartans enough on defense

State's defense wasn't pretty either. Michigan State shot 50% from the floor and connected on 10 three-pointers. The Spartans had a good group of scorers that the Bulldogs needed to keep in check Thursday, and they failed to do so.

The trio of Tyson Walker, Jaden Akins, and Malik Hall combined for 44 points. Walker led all scorers with 19. State's defense simply allowed far too many open looks for Michigan State, and the Spartans made them pay.

The Bulldogs did do a good job of forcing turnovers. They actually forced more turnovers than Michigan State (16). But because of the ineptitude of their own offense, they finished with 10 fewer second chance points.

Offensive ineptitude also contributed to a lackluster showing on defense. Michigan State is at their best on offense running in transition. Mississippi State gave them plenty of chances to do that with turnovers and missed shots. They had to play transition defense most of the game, and it didn't go well.

Mississippi State basketball will look very different this year

Mississippi State basketball came into this season with high expectations. They brought back every major contributor from a tournament team in 2023 and added the pieces they thought would provide the offensive spark needed.

They showed flashes of that potential this season, but the consistency was never there. It's why the regular season was such a roller coaster and they entered the SEC Tournament with their tournament hopes in doubt. But the way they played in Nashville inspired confidence they could do damage in March.

Unfortunately, the worst version of the 23-24 Bulldogs showed on Thursday, and the season ended in disappointing fashion.

Now you look ahead to next season, and this will be a very different team. At a minimum, Tolu Smith, DJ Jeffries, Deshawn Davis, and Jimmy Bell will be gone. Cam Matthews and Shakeel Moore may have also played their final games as Bulldogs. And in a transfer heavy era of college sports, even those who may return may choose to go elsewhere.

Chris Jans is going to have to go hard in the portal to build a competitive team this year. Josh Hubbard obviously gives you an incredible piece to build around, but he can't do it all on his own. Jans said in his introductory press conference in 2022 that he believes you have to build the roster for a tournament team every year in the portal era.

That will be put to the test next season.