Preview: Mississippi State at Auburn

Auburn hosts Mississippi State at 1 p.m. ET on SECN.

Auburn is coming off a loss at Alabama, and Mississippi State is coming off a win at Texas A&M, but both teams are similar statistically.

In addition to counting stats, the analytics for both teams makes this an interesting matchup. Per KenPom, Auburn is 44th in offensive efficiency and 95th in defensive efficiency. State is 38th in defensive efficiency and 106th in offensive efficiency. However, State is one of the slowest teams (299th) when it comes to tempo, while Auburn is one of the fastest (50th). 

Both teams are top 10 in average roster height and boast good rebounding and rim protection thanks to their height, even though Auburn’s rim protection and rebounding are more recent improvements.

What I like: This is the last game of the season for Auburn, so there could be some momentum and energy there. Even without Sharife Cooper, Auburn cut the game against Alabama to five with a second half comeback attempt and beat Tennessee. The turnovers against Alabama ultimately doomed Auburn, but State has a weaker defense than Alabama — even though it’s still a good defense. State does not force a lot of turnovers, and most of their defensive numbers are bolstered by holding opponents to low shooting percentages. State also joins Auburn as one of four SEC teams averaged more than 15 turnovers a game.

What I don’t like: State has the pieces to get Auburn trouble on defense. We’ve seen Auburn turn the ball over in high numbers regardless of opponent, so State being good at forcing bad shots could give Auburn fits if Auburn has another large sum of unforced turnovers. Auburn has also used its size to its advantage in recent games against Tennessee and Alabama, but State’s size will make that much harder to do.

Bottom line: I think a better offensive performance than the game at Coleman is almost inevitable. And if Auburn doesn’t have one of those days where the Tigers are turning the ball over in bunches and shooting poorly from three, this should be a win.