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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

McCord: The anticipated MSU men’s basketball season has arrived

Mississippi+State+guard+Martavious+Russell+appeared+in+10+games+his+freshman+season.
Ivy Rose Ball | Mississippi State Athletics

Mississippi State guard Martavious Russell appeared in 10 games his freshman season.

As the basketball season’s highly anticipated start looms closer with an opening showdown against Arizona State set for Nov. 8, the Mississippi State University men’s basketball team is brimming with optimism.
The stage for their season opener is the freshly revitalized Humphrey Coliseum, affectionately known as “The Hump,” a venue that has undergone significant upgrades to enhance the fan experience and provide a state-of-the-art home for the Bulldogs.
Leading the charge for the Bulldogs is head coach Chris Jans, whose first year at the helm yielded an impressive program record of most wins under a first year head coach with 21 wins. This achievement was bolstered by their triumphant return to the NCAA Tournament in 2023, marking a significant milestone the program had not reached since before the onset of the pandemic.
This season, they aspire to build upon that success with high expectations from fans and pundits alike.
At the core of their aspirations is star center Tolu Smith, a player who has not only earned the distinction of preseason All-SEC First Team honors, but also received First Team All-SEC media accolades. Smith’s contribution to the team is undeniable, which made the news of his pre-season injury from early October all the more disheartening.
Nevertheless, the team remains hopeful. Coach Jans provided a brief update on Smith’s potential return.
“He’s trying to get back as soon as he can,” Jans said. “In terms of a timeline, [the doctors] said it was going to be mid-January.”
The setback, while a tough blow for the Men’s Hoops, has galvanized the team’s resolve to push forward. Their recent matchup in Hattiesburg against in-state rival Southern Miss represented a pivotal moment. The exhibition game marked the team’s first “real game” without Smith. In a testament to their resilience, the Bulldogs emerged victorious, securing a 60-54 win.
This experience not only bolstered their confidence but also allowed them to adapt to a game where Smith was notably absent from the center position.
Furthermore, this game served as a valuable opportunity for the team to acclimate to the unique challenges posed by crowd noise, akin to those encountered during away games. Coach Jans was effusive in his praise for how this experience would better prepare his team for real-game scenarios.
“It felt like a real game – especially when [Southern Miss] went on a couple of runs. You could hear the crowd,” Jans said. “We tried to let the team play through it and not bail them out with a timeout in those situations, and I thought our guys handled it quite admirably.”
The Bulldogs are now in a position to leverage this early season test to their advantage, confident that they can continue to thrive even in the absence of their star center as they embark on a season full of promise and challenges yet to be overcome.
Let us hope they can repeat the same success they had at Southern Miss and last season again. This hope comes with great anticipation as MSU prepares to kick off the regular season against Arizona State at the Barstool Sports Invitational. The match will be held at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois, Nov. 8 immediately following the 6:00 p.m. match between Florida Atlantic University and Loyola Chicago.

About the Contributor
Noah McCord, Sports Editor
Noah McCord is a sophomore aerospace engineering major. He currently serves as the Sports Editor. [email protected]
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McCord: The anticipated MSU men’s basketball season has arrived