Smith on Sports: Big week of games for MSU men

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

This is a big week for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team.

The Bulldogs are playing two teams at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference standings and really need to win against both of those.

After Wednesday night’s game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, MSU hosts Ole Miss on Saturday night in the latest encounter of in-state rivals.

The Commodores are in last place with their record of 3-9 in the league, while the Rebels are in next to last place with a 4-9 mark after a 75-64 loss to Arkansas in Oxford Tuesday night.

It’s tough to ever put a tag of “must win” on any stretch of games, but when it comes to the Bulldogs, they can’t really lose to Vanderbilt or Ole Miss.

For future postseason considerations, those are the games MSU needs to win.

With six regular season games and the SEC Tournament left on the schedule, the Bulldogs currently stand 18-7 overall and 6-6 in league play.

MSU needs to find a way to stay around that .500 mark in the SEC. If that happens, and depending what happens in the conference tournament, the Bulldogs will be in the NCAA Tournament conversation and the National Invitational Tournament will definitely be in the picture.

That’s why it will be important for MSU to win the outings it’s suppose to win. The next two on the schedule fit that description.

The Bulldogs have already lost to the Rebels in Oxford and they really can’t afford to go down to them again.

It will be interesting to see how Ole Miss plays now that Andy Kennedy has announced he will be stepping down as head coach at the end of the season.

Even though that did not appear to happen Tuesday, the Rebels may get fired up to play for Kennedy the rest of the season and make things difficult for opponents, or they could continue to go into the tank and perform worse than they have in recent weeks.

My guess is that Ole Miss won’t let Kennedy go out with a whimper. I expect the Rebels to play with a purpose for the rest of the season and try to get Kennedy as many wins as they can before he heads out the door.
Ole Miss would like nothing better than to knock off MSU in Kennedy’s last appearance at Humphrey Coliseum.

That will be a story for the weekend, however The first order of business for the Bulldogs will be to play well against the Commodores Wednesday night.

A loss against a last place Vanderbilt squad would be a tough pill to swallow for MSU.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.