Skidding Mississippi State braces for No. 11 TCU

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No. 11 TCU and Mississippi State are heading in opposite directions as they prepare to meet Saturday afternoon in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Starkville, Miss.

The Horned Frogs (16-4) of the Big 12 have won three of their past four games and are still riding the momentum of Saturday’s 83-60 road rout of then-No. 2 Kansas.

The Bulldogs (12-8) of the SEC have lost five straight games and eight of nine after an 11-0 start in non-conference action. They fell just short in Wednesday’s 66-63 setback at No. 2 Alabama.

TCU continued its strong play at home Tuesday night with a 79-52 thrashing of Oklahoma. Mike Miles Jr. pumped in 17 of his 23 points in the first half for a 44-27 lead at the break.

Miles went 10-for-10 from the foul line and moved his points total to 1,140 for his three-year career wearing the program’s purple colors. He has scored in double figures in 22 consecutive games and leads the Horned Frogs with 19.3 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting.

“My percentages are up this year,” Miles said. “I feel like I’ve been smarter on the offensive end and taking smarter shots and not trying to force anything. … I know not a lot of people can stop me when I’m going downhill, so I just try to do that and keep the pressure on everyone.”

Its largest margin of victory ever over the Sooners gave TCU its best start in 25 years. Coach Billy Tubbs’ 1997-98 squad also started 16-4.

Emanuel Miller (13.5 points per game) and Damion Baugh (12.2) also average double-digit points for TCU.

The Horned Frogs have beaten Mississippi State the past two meetings and lead 3-1 in the series. The teams are 1-1 in Starkville, with the Bulldogs’ lone win occurring back in 1990.

With his Bulldogs a double-digit road underdog Wednesday night at Alabama, coach Chris Jans took a different approach with his defensive-oriented group. Jans asked them to be more aggressive with the ball and attack the Crimson Tide in their house.

It nearly worked.

Mississippi State led by as many as 11 in the first half, by seven at the break and had a game-tying 3-point try by Shakeel Moore blocked at the buzzer as Alabama escaped and improved to 8-0 in conference play.

“We’re not here to have a good showing, we’re not here to be close,” Jans said. “We came here to win. Our kids are disappointed, and our staff is disappointed. We knew we’d have to play well and we did for a long time.

“But we also knew they weren’t going to go away. They’re ranked No. 2 in the country for a reason.”

Tolu Smith topped the Bulldogs with 15 points and seven rebounds, his 15th double-double this season and the 51st of his career. Smith is the only Mississippi State player averaging in double figures with 13.8 points plus a team-high 8.0 boards per game.

–Field Level Media

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