Mississippi State basketball vs. South Carolina: Scouting report, score prediction
STARKVILLE — In its hopes of creating a late surge toward the NCAA Tournament, Mississippi State basketball may find just as much importance in good wins as it does in avoiding bad losses. January will end with the Bulldogs facing the latter.
Mississippi State travels to face South Carolina on Tuesday (5:30 p.m., SEC Network). It’s the first meeting between the programs since coach Chris Jans was hired at MSU and Lamont Paris was hired at USC.
The Gamecocks got off to a shaky start with losses to George Washington, Birmingham and East Carolina in the nonconference. Despite a stunning win at Kentucky, the SEC slate hasn’t been kind with South Carolina (8-13, 1-7 SEC), which has lost its five games since then.
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The Gamecocks (272) are the lowest-rated SEC team in the NCAA’s NET rankings. Even with the game on the road, it’s a Quadrant 4 matchup for MSU.
Mississippi State (13-8, 1-7) got off to an 11-0 start during which the Bulldogs earned a top 15 ranking. However, a stretch of eight losses in nine games has seen MSU fall out of the NCAA Tournament picture. After a win against TCU on Saturday, MSU guard Shakeel Moore said he hopes it can start a, “full 180” shift for the program.
Containing Tolu Smith, Gregory Jackson II
South Carolina is led by Gregory Jackson II – a 6-foot-9 forward averaging 16.2 points and seven rebounds per contest. Though his size poses a threat inside, it’s his ability to stretch the floor that makes the freshman difficult to contain.
Jackson ranks 10th in the SEC with 112 3-pointers attempted, shooting at a 32% clip. He ranks 29th nationally in percentage of shots taken and 72nd in percentage of possessions used, per KenPom.
MSU forward Tolu Smith is a back-to-the-basket post player but is the focal point of his team’s offense. Smith ranks 32nd in percentage of possessions used. He scored 27 points against TCU on 11-of-13 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks.
Mississippi State 64, South Carolina 50: The Bulldogs could use a game with some breathing room. MSU has been in close contests throughout the SEC schedule, so getting a chance to face a struggling opponent and rest players is timely.
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. South Carolina: Score prediction