CougCenter is your place to be for everything related to the Diamond Head Classic. This is the eighth of eight capsule previews of the participating teams.
Head Coach: Rick Stansbury (263-142, 12th season)
Record: 7-3 (#119 KenPom ranking)
Best victory: 82-76 Over #142 Detroit at home.
Worst loss: 63-62 to #168 East Tennessee State at home.
Offense: 105.5 adjusted efficiency (89th); 52.3 eFG% (79th); 18.3 TO% (73rd); 32.7 OR% (177th); 35.4 FTR (220th)
Mississippi State is a team that relies heavily on the three-point shot for offensive success. They are currently 30th in the country in 3PA per FGA, at .397. So almost 40% of their shots are taken from beyond the arc. Luckily for them so far, they have shot the ball well from out there, hitting at a 36.9% clip. That hot shooting can be almost entirely attributed to two guys, Ravern Johnson (46.8%) and Riley Benock (44.7%). The problem there is that Riley Bernock, while playing a lot of minutes, rarely shoots. He is listed in the "nearly invisible" category on kenpom.com, because he only uses 11.3% of the team's possessions while he is on the floor.
Of course the Bulldogs have built there shooting success largely against poor competition. MSU has only played one team rated in KenPom's top 140.
The Bulldogs may be hurt thus far by the absence of Renardo Sidney, who we planned to include in this preview because he appears to be a guy that will take a lot of shots. However, he has been suspended indefinitely.
Defense: 100.5 adjusted efficiency (172nd); 46.0 eFG% (82nd), 16.7 TO% (332nd), 34.3 OR% (224th), 26.5 FTR (19th)
The Bulldogs have done a solid job in defending shots and preventing the opponent from getting to the free throw line so far this season. However, against the only top 50 team that MSU has played, that was not the case. Virginia Tech was able to post a 57.5 eFG% and a 38.3 FTR (a game VT won by 31). Those are both well above MSU's season averages.
Mississippi State has not forced many turnovers and they don't rebound well, even against what should be "lower" competition. If the opposing team is having a good shooting night, it will be very hard for the Bulldogs to slow them down.
Overall, MSU is not much of a threat to win the Diamond Head Classic. The only good team on their schedule absolutely throttled them, and they've lost to some pretty poor competition at home. The Bulldogs should have a very tough time getting by Washington State. KenPom gives them just a 15% chance to win that game. Should they lose that game, they should be able to get to the fifth place game in the consolation bracket, as their second opponent will likely be #295 San Diego. After that, whether they win 5th will likely be a tossup.
Check out CougCenter's full coverage of the Diamond Head Classic here.