Men's basketball falls to Ole Miss and Alabama

Robert Woodard II, a former member of MSU’s team, scores during a game against the University of Alabama in the 2019 season.

This past week, the Mississippi State University men's basketball team fell to both the University of Mississippi and the University of Alabama. This leaves the Bulldogs ranked eighth in the Southeastern Conference in men's basketball, right above Ole Miss. Alabama is currently at the top of the rankings list.

Last Tuesday, the University of Mississippi came to Humphrey Coliseum and ended up taking the Bulldogs with a 64-46 win. This was the biggest loss for the team so far this season, falling 18 points behind the rival team.

Redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. put 18 points on the board throughout the game, but Head Coach Ben Howland spoke on how Stewart Jr. put out more in the second half.

"He had a few good looks in the first half that he just missed," Howland said. "I thought he started making the shots he normally makes in the second half. He did a good job in that respect for sure. We have to get more help. We have to be better than we were tonight offensively to be able to beat anybody in our conference."

Devontae Shuler, a guard for Ole Miss, has scored nearly 20 points at minimum for the past three games and continued with that trend during their matchup in Starkville.

"Just being myself, being comfortable and taking advantage … ," Shuler answered when asked how he has kept up his high-scoring streak game after game this season. "I'm just being more aggressive and just trying to come out with a win — whatever it takes to get a win."

Following their biggest loss of the season so far, the Bulldogs prepared for this weekend's game against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Following the Ole Miss game, Stewart Jr. discussed the mindset needed to face such a highly-ranked team after a loss.

"(We) just have to have short-term memory loss," the sophomore guard said. "In SEC play, it's on to the next since they come back-to-back. So, we really can't keep our heads down on this exact game."

It seemed like the Bulldogs fought harder on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, where they fell to the Crimson Tide 81-73, an eight point loss. The last point scored by MSU for the night was a layup by freshman guard and forward Cameron Matthews.

Howland said he was proud of his team for coming back up from the loss against Ole Miss by scoring more against the higher-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday.

"We did a good job with our offense," Howland said. "We were much more patient and played very unselfishly."

D.J. Stewart Jr. hit his SEC career-high of 27 points during the game. Coach Howland was impressed with the guard's performance at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday.

"I thought D.J. (Stewart Jr.) was absolutely phenomenal today at both ends of the floor," Howland said post-game. "When you see when D.J. was in the game and I got him a little bit more rest, we were even with them. Bottom line is, when he's in the game, that's when we're at our best."

Following this defeat by Alabama, the Bulldogs will be on the road for Tuesday's game against Tennessee. The men's basketball team will face the No. 5 SEC-ranked Volunteers at the Thompson-Boling arena at 6 p.m. Central Time.  

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