#5 Auburn vs Mississippi State College Basketball Predictions & Preview Game

#5 Auburn vs Mississippi State | College Basketball Predictions & Preview Game

With a win Wednesday night at unranked Mississippi State, No. 5 Auburn can clinch no worse than a share of the SEC regular-season title. The Tigers are short favorites on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Auburn at Mississippi State NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Wednesday, 9 PM ET
  • Where: Humphrey Coliseum
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio: Tunein.com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: Auburn -3 (total 139.5)

Last Meeting

This is the only scheduled meeting of the season. Last year, they also played once and Auburn won 78-71 in the regular-season finale at home – the Tigers are miles better this year. Allen Flanigan scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Auburn pulled away late. The lead went back and forth in the second half until Auburn grabbed the lead for good on a bucket by Jaylin Williams. The lead was seven after a Williams dunk with 47 seconds left. After a MSU basket, Auburn sank four straight free throws for a comfortable margin. Tolu Smith, still at MSU, had 20 points and nine rebounds.

Why Bet on Auburn?

Not only is Auburn playing for an SEC regular-season title but perhaps a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers come off a 67-62 loss at then-No. 17 Tennessee on Saturday. It was Auburn’s third straight road loss.

“Disappointed,” was the way Auburn coach Bruce Pearl summed up his emotion. “We had an 11-point lead in the second half. To not do a better job taking advantage of the basketball and taking advantage of the position we put ourselves in. Played hard, defense was pretty good.”

Jabari Smith and K.D. Johnson combined for 45 points in the loss. Smith led all scorers with a game-high 28 points and his four-point play with just under a minute to go capped a 7-0 Auburn run and cut the lead to 3. The Volunteers responded with a basket on the other end to extend the lead and put the game out of reach. It was his 24th game in double digits this season and his 11th 20-point outing. The freshman has now scored 20 or more points in four of Auburn’s last six games and is averaging 21.8 points per game in the stretch.

With a clinical jump shot, savvy ball handling abilities and positional versatility at both ends of the floor, Smith’s skill set is tantalizing — and coveted. He could be the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Smith averages a team-high 12.3 field goal attempts and 16.6 points per game, but both marks rank just sixth in the SEC. If Smith does get draft first overall, he’ll boast the lowest per-game shot attempts of any top pick since Ben Simmons. Add Smith’s free throw attempts per game (4.5) to the total and he would have the fewest combined shot attempts averaged by a No. 1 pick since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015.

Wendell Green Jr. is one nation’s top bench players. He is No. 1 in the in 122 assists off the bench and is ninth in points. Auburn’s second leading scorer (12.5 ppg), he is third in the SEC in assists (5.0 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (2.2).

Auburn’s 25 wins are tied for the fourth-most wins in the program’s single-season history. Its next win will equal the third most set four seasons ago (2017-18). Four of the top five single-season win totals have come under Pearl.

Why Bet on Mississippi State?

The only way Mississippi State (17-12) makes the NCAA Tournament is if it wins the SEC Tournament, although the NIT is a possibility. The Bulldogs beat Vanderbilt 74-69 on Saturday to win for the third time in four games. Mississippi State was 19 of 24 from the foul line in the second half, outscoring Vanderbilt by 10. MSU shot 50% but was just 1 of 6 on 3-pointers, compared to the Commodores 9 of 29.

MSU earned its third win when facing a halftime deficit this season. State has recorded 25 halftime comeback wins under Coach Howland with 16 coming against SEC opponents. Tolu Smith had 22 points and Iverson Molinar 20. It marked the first time that Molinar and Smith have accomplished 20-plus points together.  Molinar set a school record by scoring in double figures in 29 straight games for the Bulldogs. Tony Watts scored in all 28 games for MSU in 1991-92.

Molinar is the only SEC player to score in double figures during every game his team has played in this season. He is one of three players nationally to accomplish the feat joined by E.J. Liddell (Ohio State) and Mark Sears (Ohio). Molinar is one of two SEC players and one of seven Power 5 players to be ranked among their league’s top 11 in points (18.0 – 3rd) field goal percentage (47.5 – 6th) and assists (3.7 – 11th).

Andersson Garcia had a solid all-around performance with eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. State improved to 6-0 when Garcia scores at least seven points this season. As for Smith, he missed some games injured this season. If he qualified for the SEC leaderboard, Smith would rank 4th in field goal percentage (54.9), 16th in rebounds (5.7) and 18th in points (12.4).

The Bulldogs still play at one of the slowest tempos in the country. They average an adjusted 66 possessions per 40 minutes (No. 267), according to KenPom. Auburn averages 70.4 (No. 47).

“If you can try to speed them up a little bit without fouling them, extend your defense a little bit — but at the same time, at home, they’re going to be better at attacking pressure,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We’ll try to speed them up a little bit, but really when it comes to tempo, a team that wants to slow it down can control tempo way more than if a team likes to play fast. … So it’s going to be one of those games we’re probably going to have to play at their tempo.”

Bulldogs guard Rocket Watts will miss another game dealing with an elbow injury. The 6-foot-2 junior has appeared in 19 games, averaging 4.4 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 0.4 steals on 13.4 minutes per game. The hope is that he’s ready for the SEC Tournament.

Expert Prediction

  • Auburn 73, Mississippi State 69


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