A pair of Magnolia State rivals in desperate need of a win will meet Saturday on CBS as Mississippi State hosts Ole Miss in an SEC showdown. Both teams are off to 0-2 starts in league play after facing a pair of conference favorites and will be desperate to avoid an 0-3 hole.
Ole Miss (8-6, 0-2) nearly upset Tennessee last week before falling 63-59 and then losing 84-62 at Alabama on Tuesday. Mississippi State (11-3, 0-2) also suffered losses to the Crimson Tide and Volunteers as first-year coach Chris Jans got his first taste of SEC action.
Mississippi State got off to a stunning 11-0 start in non-conference play under Jans with a suffocating defense. The start included quality neutral-site wins over Marquette and Utah, but that has proven difficult to sustain. Tennessee scored the first 16 points of its game against Mississippi State on Tuesday and cruised to an 87-53 victory.
While that performance was something of an anomaly for the Bulldogs, who are usually formidable on defense, offense has been a consistent problem. Mississippi State ranks 305th nationally in points per game at 67.1 and is 298th in shooting percentage at 42%. Ole Miss has similarities to Mississippi State in its shooting challenges. In particular, 3-point shooting has been a liability for the Rebels, who are 334th nationally at 29.4% from beyond the arc. Only two opponents have reached 70 points against Ole Miss, but the Rebels have simply lacked the firepower to capitalize.
These teams have made a habit of splitting their regular season series in recent years. Given their similarity to each other, it wouldn’t be a shock if that’s how it plays out again this season. But the rematch on February 18 is a long way off. For now, both teams are in dire need of a win, and that sense of desperation should only add to what is always a high-stakes rivalry game.
How to watch Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss live
Date: Saturday 7 January | Time: 2 p.m. ET
placement: Humphrey Coliseum — Starkville, Mississippi
TV: CBS | Live Streaming: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State Prediction, Picks
Featured game | Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Oddly enough, the last four games between Mississippi State and Ole Miss have been decided by double digits with each team winning two contests. But that trend should end on Saturday in a match between two defensively oriented teams. The Rebels and Bulldogs both struggle to score and every possession should be a contest as both teams try to avoid an 0-3 start to league play. Look for Ole Miss to cover in a close game. Selection: Ole Miss +5
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