STARKVILLE • Mississippi State was mere moments away from its first Southeastern Conference victory at LSU last Saturday.
Instead, the Bulldogs lost 60-59 on a last-second shot which extended their SEC-opening skid to three games which left the team deflated and frustrated.
“You can see a little frustration after the last game, fighting that hard and losing on a buzzer-beater,” said MSU guard Robert Woodard II. “If you gave everything you had, there’s nothing to be down about. You just have to move on with it and move on the to the next game knowing that we need a win. We have to come together at this point and support each other and the coaches as well.”
MSU (9-6) next shot to get in the conference win column comes tonight as it takes on Missouri at 8 on SEC Network. The Bulldogs have had plenty of success of late in the series, claiming six of the last seven in the series.
State defeated Missouri 68-49 in Starkville last season thanks in part to a game-high 22 points from Tyson Carter.
Carter, however, has struggled so far during league play. The senior guard is shooting only 6 of 33 (18.2 percent) from the field over the last three games.
“I have total belief in Tyson that he’s going to work his way out of the slump that he’s been in,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “He’s a shooter and sometimes when you see it not going in, you start to press.”
The Tigers (9-6, 1-2 SEC) are coming off their first league victory over the weekend, a 91-75 home win over Florida. The 91 points is the most Missouri has scored in SEC play in seven years and produced 51 of those points in the opening half.
Additionally, the Tigers also possess the stingiest defense in the conference allowing only 58.9 points per game.
“They’re coming in here with an incredible amount of confidence,” Howland said. “They really played well against Florida. They had them down 20 in the first half. At one point, they were 12 of 17 from 3 and everybody was knocking down their 3s. Their strength is that they’re a really good defensive team and really do a good job in their half-court defense.”
One of Missouri’s top players, junior Jeremiah Tilmon, has missed three of the last four games with a stress fracture in his left foot. The 6-foot-10, 260-pound center scored 11 points against the Bulldogs last season.
Even if Tilmon cannot go tonight, the Tigers have two more 6-foot-10 players to take his place in Mitchell Smith and Reed Nikko.