Mississippi State basketball vs. No. 11 TCU: Scouting report, score prediction
STARKVILLE — A break from SEC play is typically a good sign for Mississippi State basketball, but that won’t be the case at Humphrey Coliseum.
As part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, MSU hosts No. 11 TCU on Saturday (3 p.m., ESPN2).
It’s the fifth time Mississippi State is taking part in the cross-conference challenge since its inception in the 2013-2014 season. MSU is 1-3 with the lone win coming coming against Iowa State in 2021.
Saturday’s matchup features a pair of programs headed in opposite directions. After a rocky start to the season featuring a home loss to Northwestern State, the Horned Frogs (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) have won 14 of their last 17 – including a 23-point win at Kansas last Saturday.
Mississippi State (12-8, 1-7 SEC) opened the season with 11 straight wins but has lost eight of nine.
DOWN TO THE WIRE:Inside Mississippi State basketball's failed final possession in loss at No. 2 Alabama
HONORING LEGENDS:Mississippi State basketball to honor 60th anniversary of 1963 NCAA Game of Change vs Loyola
RECRUITING:Mississippi State basketball lands Jeremiah Wilkinson, Chris Jans' first 2024 commitment
Keeping games tight
After Wednesday’s 66-63 loss at No. 2 Alabama, forward Tolu Smith said Mississippi State is better than its record indicates. During their losing streak, the Bulldogs have only lost by double figures once.
MSU’s ability to hang tight is reflected in the matchup with TCU. The Horned Frogs are only projected to win by one, according to KenPom.
However, it’ll be a test to see how long Mississippi State can continue to keep games close while overcoming the mental hurdle of consistently finishing on the wrong end. First-year Mississippi State coach Chris Jans followed up on Smith’s postgame comments by saying it didn’t matter how they played because the team wasn’t looking for moral victories.
In order to make a late surge toward the NCAA Tournament, Saturday’s matchup is the closest thing to a must-win one can have in January.
Eyes on Shakeel Moore
MSU guard Shakeel Moore hadn’t started a game until the matchup against Alabama. However, his role off the bench hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Moore was named to the Naismith defensive player of the year watch list on Thursday. He'd be the first MSU player to win the award on the men's side. Teaira McCowan won on the women's award during the 2017-18 season.
TCU 64, Mississippi State 60: Yet again, the Bulldogs will keep it tight. However, without a go-to scorer, late-game execution remains a concern. TCU has national championship aspirations and has proven so with big-time performances on the road. Humphrey Coliseum shouldn’t pose too much of an issue.
Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @skrajisnik3.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State basketball vs. TCU: Scouting report, score prediction