Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Mississippi State Bulldogs

South Carolina v Alabama
South Carolina v Alabama / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball vs Mississippi State will tip off at 7:30 CT (8:30 ET) in Starkville, Mississippi. The game will be televised on SEC Network. 

As seismic changes continue to take place on the gridiron, Alabama Basketball heads to Starkville to try to continue its winning streak. 

The Crimson Tide has notched four straight victories and is 2-0 in SEC play with wins at Vanderbilt and against South Carolina.

Chris Jans’ Mississippi State team is 1-1 in the league, and it's tough to make much of the Bulldogs’ resume. Mississippi State opened conference play with a loss at South Carolina, but responded with a win over a top-5 Tennessee team in Humphrey Coliseum. Alabama Basketball will now enter that same building hoping to avoid the fate of the Vols. 

The Tennessee win is by far the most impressive aspect of Mississippi State’s resume. The Bulldogs didn’t play any particularly tough non-conference games and have amassed a respectable overall 12-3 record. Jans has a veteran squad in his second season, returning a lot of key contributors from last season. 

Alabama Basketball vs Mississippi State Backcourt 

The Bulldogs return two solid senior guards in Dashawn Davis (8.1 points, 3.5 assists per game) and Shakeel Moore (7.6 points per game). Davis and Moore were both key cogs in the Mississippi State backcourt last season and have combined to start over 100 career games.

In addition to this veteran pair, the Bulldogs have gotten a massive boost from 5’10” freshman guard Josh Hubbard. An in-state product, Hubbard is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game and shooting over 39 percent from three-point range. He has been instant offense off the bench for the Bulldogs, turning in four 20+ point games and hitting four or more triples in each contest. When Hubbard has eclipsed 20, Mississippi State is 4-0. His most notable performances have been a 29-point outing against Northwestern and a 25-point game against Tennessee.

Alabama Basketball vs Mississippi State Frontcourt 

Tolu Smith, perhaps Mississippi State’s best player, has returned from injury and appears to be finding his stride. Smith has been an impact player in the SEC over the last three seasons, averaging over 14 points and nearly eight rebounds per game in 88 games with Mississippi State. So far this season, he has only played three games but is averaging over 17 PPG, including 23 in the win over Tennessee. 

Smith rejoins an already-effective frontcourt. Cameron Matthews and DJ Jeffries are both gritty, veteran combo forwards that are averaging north of six rebounds per game apiece. West Virginia transfer Jimmy Bell is a massive interior presence that has posted 8.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and over a block per game. Bell’s minutes may diminish as Tolu Smith returns to full strength, but he has proven he is more than capable down low. 

While Alabama Basketball is the more talented team, this could be a difficult game on the road against a very experienced opponent. Additionally, State’s strength is its toughness and its relentless effort on the glass. The Bulldogs could prove to be a tough matchup for an Alabama frontcourt that is still seeking its identity. 

Should it take care of business, this would be the most impressive conference victory yet for Nate Oats and Bama hoops.