Mississippi State Makes Most of Home-Court Advantage

On3 imageby:Nick Roush02/27/24

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Mississippi State Head Coach Chris Jans Previews Kentucky Matchup (1)

The penultimate road trip of the 2023-24 Kentucky basketball season is at the unfriendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum. Known simply as ‘The Hump’ to Starkvillians, Mississippi State is hosting a white-out for the highly anticipated matchup.

“It’s Kentucky. Everybody gets excited,” head coach Chris Jans said in his postgame press conference after the win over LSU. “I know our fans will be excited. We’re going to have a rocking Hump. It’s just a great opportunity for us.”

The Hump has been rocking this season. Mississippi State has only lost two games at home. The last time Kentucky went on the road in a similar environment, the Cats handed Auburn their first home loss of the season. To repeat history, let’s take a closer look at the teams who have been successful in Starkville and what makes this Mississippi State team so much more difficult to play in Starkville.

Mississippi State at The Hump

We all know Mississippi State makes its hay on playing good defense. They’re even more suffocating at home than on the road. According to Bart Torvik, Mississippi State improves from No. 34 in adjusted deficiency on the road to No. 15 at home, where opponents shoot 29.2% from behind the three-point line.

Here’s another thing we all know: home teams receive a much friendlier whistle. Free throw rate measures a team’s ability to get to the free throw line and is calculated by dividing free attempts and field goal attempts. Away from Starkville, Mississippi State has a free throw rate of 29, ranking No. 215 nationally. When they return home they rank No. 43 with a free throw rate of 44.3.

Why is this statistic even more significant in this matchup? Kentucky was 23 of 27 from the free throw line in the 90-77 victory over the Bulldogs at Rupp Arena. When refs allow Mississippi State to get away with their physical brand of basketball, they thrive.

What Opponents Did Well in Wins at Miss. State

The two opponents with wins at The Hump don’t share much in common. Alabama is tied atop the SEC standings while Southern is fourth in the SWAC. Each victor had one player do the heavy lifting in the scoring column. Tai’Reon Joseph scored 27 points for Southern and Mark Sears had 22 points at Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs are one of the better rebounding teams in the SEC. Without Tolu Smith against Southern, Miss. State only won the rebounding margin by two. They were +1 against Alabama. Kentucky cannot let Mississippi State dominate the glass tonight at The Hump.

Contain Josh Hubbard

While Justin Edwards grabbed all the headlines around the Big Blue Nation, he was forced to share SEC Freshman of the Week honors with Josh Hubbard. The home state star scored 32 points against LSU and is averaging 18.6 points per game over the last two weeks. He shoots seven percentage points better from behind the three-point line at home.

A non-factor at Rupp Arena, Hubbard was 1 of 11 from the field in the first matchup against Kentucky. The Cats must cool down Hubbard or it could be a long night for John Calipari’s team at The Hump.

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2024-04-24