STARKVILLE • Texas A&M’s men’s basketball team is off to a slow start in SEC play, but Ben Howland and his Mississippi State squad aren’t overlooking the Aggies.
Mississippi State (8-4, 3-1 SEC) hosts Texas A&M (6-4, 1-3) today at the Humphrey Coliseum at 8 p.m.
The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Texas A&M lost to LSU by 23, South Carolina by 24 and No. 9 Tennessee by 14, with its only win a 68-66 decision over Auburn at home. Despite that, Howland insists the Aggies are still a talented bunch.
“They have some really good talent,” Howland said. “Everybody is back on their team with the exception of two guys that beat us last year and handled us pretty good and we had a good team and were playing really well.”
The Aggies are led by 6-foot-7 forward Emanuel Miller. Miller has played in nine games this season and started six. He averages 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, both near the top in the SEC.
He ranks fifth in the SEC in rebounds per game and seventh in the SEC in points. He leads the league in field goal percentage, shooting 59.8% from the floor.
Miller has a knack of getting to the free-throw line as well. He is fourth in the league with 66 free-throw attempts and has made 52.
“Miller is a very good player,” Howland said. “He’s one of the leading scorers in the conference as a sophomore. You could see as a freshman last year that he was really good.”
Mississippi State will try to counter Miller with its two big men inside – Tolu Smith and Abdul Ado.
Ado, at 6-foot-11, is one of the best defenders in the SEC and is fourth in the league with 1.9 blocks per game and third overall with 23 this year. Smith, at 6-10, is sixth overall with 14 blocks and averages 1.2 per game.
Smith also averages 7.8 rebounds per game, which ranks best in the SEC.