#129 Mississippi State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #129
Conference Rank: #11 SEC

Mississippi State Team Page#129 Mississippi State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Mississippi State Basketball Tickets

Coach Rick Ray had to endure a tough opening season as the head coach of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had to practically rebuild from scratch. The team actually won their first two SEC games, but the good times went away for quite a while after that. Following a 13 games losing streak, MSU won three of their next four games, including an opening round victory over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. But last year was there to build towards the future. Now it is time to show progress.

2012-13 Record: 10-22, 4-14
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Rick Ray
Coach Record: 10-22 at Mississippi State, 10-22 overall

Who’s Out:
For much of the 2012-2013 campaign, the Bulldogs went with an eight man rotation and all eight of those players are back. Baxter Price was the only other player to see any minutes. The 5-10 guard averaged just 4.8 minutes per contest and never scored a point.

Who’s In:
Coach Ray wants to play tough pressure defense and anybody who plays good defense will earn minutes. Going a little deeper than eight would be beneficial too. Thus, there is room for the newcomers to make an immediate impact. Andre Applewhite, Jacoby Davis, Dallas Prater, IJ Ready, Tevin Moore and Kyle Dobbs will add even more depth on the perimeter. Jacoby Davis was a possible impact freshman last season, but he tore an ACL last summer and missed the entire 2012-2013 campaign. Now healthy, the 6-1 freshman will compete for a starting job. Moore, a junior college transfer, is also expected to see some quality playing time. In the frontcourt, Fallou Ndoye and Travis Daniels will add depth. Ndoye will likely need some time to develop, but Daniels is a tough 6-8, 205 pound forward who spent the last two years at Shelton State Community College.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt was extremely young and it did not help that Jalen Steele, the most experienced player on the roster missed quite a few games with a couple injuries and a suspension. Steele did end up averaging 10.1 points per game and sparking the offense with his outside shooting ability. Steele will again lead the way on the perimeter, but the help is much more experienced now. As a freshman, Craig Sword proved to be a very capable scorer by driving to the basket. Once his outside shot starts falling, Sword will average more than 10.5 points per game. Trivante Bloodman perhaps had the toughest job of anybody last season. He had to run the show. His shooting and scoring were not particularly impressive and he committed way too many turnovers, but Bloodman at least showed some potential. Fred Thomas is a good scoring threat and a solid defender. He averaged 9.7 points per game as a freshman, but was horribly inconsistent from beyond the arc. He took 5.4 three-pointers per contest and connected on just 23.8 percent of those attempts. Tyson Cunningham will likely see his minutes decrease as more bodies come onto the team, but he is a tough guard who Coach Ray will call on when defense is needed.

Final Projection:
The backcourt has a lot of growing up to do, but they did gain valuable experience last season. The frontcourt should be improved as well with the return of the injured Wendell Lewis to join Gavin Ware, Colin Borchert and Roquez Johnson. Lewis played in just eight games during his first senior season before suffering a knee injury. Two years ago Lewis averaged 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and nearly one block per contest on a team that was pretty deep in the frontcourt. He was well on his way to having a solid senior season prior to the injury. Ware, a 6-9, 270 pound sophomore, stepped into the starting role for Lewis. Ware proved to be a capable interior scorer and a very good rebounder. Borchert had a very impressive debut season for the Bulldogs after spending a couple years at the junior college level. The 6-8 senior can do a little bit of everything. He is a good shooter who can stretch out the defense. And Borchert does not neglect his frontcourt duties just because he can shoot. He is a tough rebounder and led the team with an average of 1.2 blocks per contest. With the depth provided by junior Roquez Johnson, the frontcourt has the potential to be quite good. Yet potential was what Mississippi State showed last season. Now it is time to move ahead and start winning some games. That will be difficult in the SEC, but this group does have enough talent to double their conference win total in year two of the Coach Ray era.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Trivante Bloodman, Junior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Jalen Steele, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Craig Sword, Sophomore, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Colin Borchert, Senior, Forward, 9.0 points per game
Wendell Lewis, Senior, Center, 8.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 60.6 (310th in nation, 13th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.5 (248, 14)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.1 (311, 14)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.9 (226, 13)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.7 (308, 14)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 28.4 (315, 14)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.7 (279, 11)
Rebound Margin: -3.9 (304, 14)
Assists Per Game: 10.0 (327, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 17.0 (338, 14)


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