Well, that was ugly. I'm not sure there's another word that describes the game better than that. Mississippi State is not a good team, and the Aggies definitely played down to their level tonight. The Aggies fought back from a very early deficit to escape Starkville with the ugly, yet impressive win. Impressive, you say? A win like that on the road certainly isn't something you want to see become common, but the team fought, hustled, and played their way to a 2-0 record to start the young SEC hoops season.
1. Playing out of a funk
It took the Aggies 17 minutes to play themselves out of their terrible start to the first half. That would normally knock a team out of a game, but Mississippi State simply isn't good enough to put a decent team away. The Bulldogs stuck to their zone defense, and the Ags struggled with it mightily without much of a transition game. When the Aggie guards were able to get out in transition, the points were quick and efficient.
2. Game plan on the road
I'm not sure what the game day schedule is for the team, but sloppy road games are far too common. A slow start on the road against a team like Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, and of course Kentucky could lead to an early disaster. In all fairness, the team was incredibly clutch on the offensive boards tonight. That was without a doubt a big difference in the game. Of course, if the shots are falling you don't have to worry about offensive rebounds.
3. The year of the senior
You are probably already sick of hearing college basketball play by play guys saying this, but Alex Caruso was another notch in that bedpost tonight. House was out, Davis picked up early foul trouble, and the Mississippi State zone very effectively neutralized Jalen Jones. Caruso was hitting his shot early tonight, and came up big late in the second half as well. On the second to last possession of the game, Caruso made one of the better low post entry passes off a drive that you'll see this season. That assist put the game away, and let the Ags get out of Starkville with a win.