Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Southern Jaguars Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 3rd 2023

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Mississippi State will try to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it faces Southern on Sunday afternoon in Starkville, Miss.

The No. 21 Bulldogs (6-1) lost to Georgia Tech 67-59 in the ACC/SEC Challenge on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

Mississippi State fell behind by 13 points at halftime and could never catch up in the second half.

“We played harder (at halftime),” Bulldogs coach Chris Jans said, “but first 11 possessions (of the second half), you get five turnovers. It’s hard to overcome when you’ve got that big of a deficit.

“We dug ourselves such a hole. We played much more on the defensive end than we were accustomed to and anticipated playing, but I’m not sure we got off to the start that we wanted.”

Jans said the energy required to try and catch up eventually took a toll on the Bulldogs as they tried to get over the hump.

“You work your tail off on the other end and rebound and run,” he said. “Then, you’ve got to jump up and shoot the basketball. We definitely didn’t have a very good shooting night. (Shooting 7 of 30 on 3-point attempts) isn’t going to win you a lot of games on the road. We had to take a high number of 3s, especially down the stretch to try to give ourselves a chance.”

The Jaguars (1-6) are completing a series of eight consecutive road games to start the season. After losing to TCU to start the campaign, they defeated UNLV 85-71 but since have lost to then-No. 3 Arizona, Western Illinois, then-No. 23 Illinois, Valparaiso and current No. 3 Marquette.

“I would have rather played four or five home games, but that is just not the nature of the situation,” Southern first-year coach Kevin Johnson said, according to www.247sports.com. “But we don’t make excuses. Whoever we get to play, we will continue to give them a great effort and try to win the ballgame.”

Johnson said the Golden Eagles were the most physical team the Jaguars have faced.

“They forced us into 22 turnovers,” Johnson said. “We felt their physicality. They prevented us from moving the ball the way we wanted to. We were able to make some shots in the first half. I felt like we could, but when it got down to the board play and the inside play, we had no answers. That’s for sure.”

The Jaguars got a boost from Jordan Johnson, who scored 21 points against Marquette, equaling the number of points he had scored entering the game.

Southern will finally play a home game when it faces Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 9 to start a stretch of four home games in its final five pre-conference games. The Jaguars continue at home for their first two Southwestern Athletic Conference games in January.

“The hardest thing to do is to keep the kids focused as you go through it until you get some home games in December,” Kevin Johnson said of the gauntlet of road games to start the season.

–Field Level Media

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