The good vibes from the commitment of four-star big man Abdul Ado were short-lived for Mississippi State fans on Monday, as another Ben Howland recruiting win was followed by his first actual loss as the Bulldogs’ coach.
Mississippi State fell 76-72 to Southern on Monday night in Starkville. It was an especially disappointing start for highly-touted freshman Malik Newman, who missed the season opener (a 106-88 win against Eastern Washington) with a turf toe injury and never got it going Monday. The talented guard finished 2-for-8 from the field and 1-for-6 from the line with three assists and two rebounds.
Is this the most surprising upset we’ve seen so far in college basketball? No. Mississippi State doesn’t have the same expectations as Wisconsin or Georgetown this season, but it’s never a good look to lose a SWAC school as a power conference member (looking at you too, Virginia Tech).
The Bulldogs trailed against Eastern Washington as well before a 20-0 run in the second half sealed the win. This was expected to be a double-digit win for Mississippi State, and it just wasn’t. It’s not a reason to bury Ben Howland’s Bulldogs before the season gets started, but it’s probably a good reminder that it is going to take time for recruiting wins to pay off on the court.