Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama basketball will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs to open up conference play on Wednesday night. It has been over a week since the Crimson Tide took the court, but they cannot afford to come out sluggish in this game.

Mississippi State is off to an 11-1 start and is ranked no. 21 in the nation. They will undoubtedly have a rocking home court environment in Starkville.

The Bulldogs haven’t played a particularly tough schedule, but their wins include several lopsided victories. Mississippi State also owns wins over two pretty good teams in Utah and Marquette.

Chris Jans is off to a good start in his first year as head coach in Starkville. Jans’ team is led by senior big man Tolu Smith, who is averaging 15.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Smith is one of the best post players in the SEC. He will be a handful for Tide bigs Charles Bediako and Noah Clowney.

On the wing, Mississippi State has a pair of experienced players in senior DJ Jeffries and junior Cameron Matthews. Jeffries, a former Memphis transfer, is a jack-of-all-trades that has started 67 college games. He is a solid defender that rebounds and moves the ball well. Jeffries is averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Matthews is very athletic, and plays a similar role for the Bulldogs.

Alabama Basketball: Advantage in the backcourt?

The MSU backcourt is manned by a trio of veterans in Oregon State transfer Dashawn Davis, Southeast Missouri State transfer Eric Reed Jr., and junior Shakeel Moore. All three can score, distribute the ball, and defend, but they have struggled to shoot the three this year. Of the three, only Davis is shooting a respectable percentage, and he does not shoot the three at a high volume.

In my opinion, these guards don’t match up very well with Alabama’s backcourt. Jahvon Quinerly, Mark Sears, and Jaden Bradley give the Tide three confident ball handlers that can all score and pass effectively. Guard play might be Bama’s biggest advantage in this game, considering Mississippi State has major difference-makers in the front court.

Intensity shouldn’t be an issue for either team in this matchup. It should be an electric atmosphere for this conference game between two top-25 teams. Mississippi State is off to one of the hottest starts in school history, and yet they are still underdogs against the Crimson Tide. The Bulldog fan base will be frothing with anticipation when the Tide comes to town.

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As we have already seen plenty of times this season, this game will test the character and toughness of Alabama basketball. The Tide have already notched an impressive road win at Houston. Can they get another one in Starkville?