Chris Jans, Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Mississippi State Bulldogs advance through the first round of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off with an impressive 76-64 win over the Washington State Cougars.

Physicality and casinos aren’t usually two words that go together often, but Mississippi State and Washington State brought the two together today during their battle at Mohegan Sun. While offensive execution may have been lacking at times, the intensity was there from start to finish. Mississippi State had a slow start to the contest which gave the Cougars a chance to play with the lead early. Once the Bulldogs settled into the game they ended up taking the lead and never looking back.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs created the bulk of their lead early in the second half on a 7-0 run which spanned just 44 seconds of game time. A common theme throughout, the Bulldogs defense generated turnovers which led to instant offense on the other end especially during the previously mentioned 7-0 run. Mississippi State Head Coach Chris Jans created an effective game plan as the Bulldogs held Andrej Jakimovski and Isaac Jones to 7 and 10 points respectively. Shutting down the two leading scorers for Washington State wasn’t all the Bulldogs did well defensively as they won the rebound battle 39-30 and recorded 10 steals along the way.

Takeaway #3: Mississippi State is Built for Success

It was a true team effort for the Bulldogs today as multiple players made key contributions on the court. They had four different players scoring in double digits as well as three different players recording 3 steals. Mississippi State is currently missing star forward Tolu Smith which made some wonder who could step up in his absence and it seems like that concern should be forgotten after seeing the depth this team possesses.

The Bulldogs advance to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off championship game with a chance to bring home some early season hardware from their trip to Mohegan Sun. Last season, Mississippi State won their first 11 games and there shouldn’t be much doubt that they have a chance to repeat that effort this season.

Takeaway #2: Myles Rice Led the Cougars in Scoring

Myles Rice has an incredible story that continues to evolve. Rice is a redshirt freshman and did not get a chance to play last season as he was receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He has made an incredible effort to continue his basketball career at Washington State which is proven by his 21 point breakout performance. Mississippi State’s defense played physically today and when in doubt the Cougars consistently turned to Myles Rice to run the offense. If Myles Rice can provide consistent production as the starting PG for the Cougars then this team could see themselves competing for a spot in the tournament when March rolls around.

Takeaway #3: Josh Hubbard Provided Energy of the Bench

An ESPN 100 recruit, Josh Hubbard is a true freshman for the Bulldogs and may be a key piece as Mississippi State tries to turn their hot start into season-long success. Hubbard scored 13 points today in 23 minutes played and also recorded just 1 turnover. That kind of production off the bench is noteworthy never mind when it comes from a freshman in November. Hubbard should continue getting comfortable at the Division I level as the season progresses which may only spell danger for whoever draws the Mississippi State Bulldogs as an opponent in March because that is the trajectory this team is on.

Next Up: Mississippi State will play the winner of Northwestern/Rhode Island in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Championship Game while Washington State will take on the loser of Northwestern/Rhode Island in a consolation third place game.

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