“Tigers aim to secure a comeback victory in Starkville against Mississippi State.”

After experiencing a narrow defeat on the road that brought an end to their winning streak in Tuscaloosa, Auburn basketball is eager to return to the victory column as they navigate through the middle section of their SEC schedule.

KD Johnson eyeing Mark Sears during the first half of Auburn vs Alabama on January 24, 2024

The upcoming challenge takes the Tigers to Starkville, Mississippi, where they face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Auburn holds a favorable history in this matchup with a five-game winning streak, including victories in their last two encounters at Humphrey Coliseum.

The orange and blue squad heads into this game with a 16-3 (5-1) record, following a 79-75 loss to arch-rival Alabama in Coleman Coliseum. Despite a strong second-half comeback, early turnovers and a lack of successful three-pointers prevented the Tigers from securing a win.

On the other side, the Bulldogs are also aiming for a rebound after their recent 79-70 loss to Florida. With a 13-6 (2-4) record, they currently hold the 11th position in the SEC standings.

Mississippi State is familiar with bouncing back from setbacks, as demonstrated by their earlier victory against No. 5 Tennessee this month after a defeat. Auburn’s coach, Bruce Pearl, acknowledges the challenge his team faces, emphasizing the tough environment in Starkville, the opponent’s veteran team, and their aspirations for postseason success.

The Bulldogs struggled in their last game, shooting poorly from the floor and beyond the arc, ultimately leading to their defeat. With an average of 74.7 points per game, they rely on their solid defense, allowing an average of 66.4 points, to counter Auburn’s high-scoring offense, which averages 83.3 points per game.

Pearl recognizes Mississippi State as one of the top defensive teams in the league, particularly noting their effective three-point field goal percentage defense and ball pressure. Auburn needs to approach this defensively aggressive opponent with intelligence and confidence, especially considering the Bulldogs’ impressive average of 8.4 steals per game, ranking them third in the conference.

Auburn boasts a formidable defense, ranking second in the conference and 48th nationally in scoring defense. The Tigers’ strength lies in their top center, Johni Broome, who excels in both blocks and rebounds. Utilizing Broome effectively will be crucial in gaining an advantage against Mississippi State’s interior threat, Tolu Smith.

As Auburn aims to recover from the recent loss, they also seek to maintain dominance with their lineup depth, an area where they faced challenges in the previous game.

The 147th meeting between the Tigers and the Bulldogs is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27, at Humphrey Coliseum, with a tip time of 2:30 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

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