come with a win tonight. There would still be work to do even beyond that, with a road trip to LSU this weekend and the SEC Tournament still remaining, but a victory tonight would obviously be a humongous boost towards helping Mississippi State achieve its goal.
It won't be easy though. Tennessee needs some help to get there, but the Vols are still
playing to win the SEC's regular season championship. They currently sit in second place only one game off the pace of Auburn.
Tennessee has been carried this year by its defense. The Volunteers boast the top scoring defense in the SEC, limiting opponents to just 66.9 points per game.
Howland says Tennessee's defense isn't the only scary part of the Vols' game though. He believes Tennessee is a complete team.
“(Forwards) Grant Williams and (Admiral) Schofield, those guys are just studs and
really good players,” Howland said. “They run a lot of stuff through them. They take the most shots, but they also have really good guard play.
"(Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes) is one of the best coaches in the game, not just in our league. When you win nearly 700-something games and have been to the tournament 22 times and been to Final Fours – things that coach Barnes has done – it's pretty incredible. He has won everywhere he has been.”
While Tennessee is unquestionably talented
in multiple ways, the Bulldogs aren't so bad themselves. State is particularly good on the home floor it'll look to defend tonight. MSU has a school-best 18 wins on its own court this season. The Bulldogs' only home loss came against Auburn.
If Mississippi State can again hold serve at home, their tournament dreams will become that much closer to a reality. State is treasuring even having that chance.
“It's a great feeling to be right here,” Holman said.