Mississippi State is starting to realize what it has in freshman forward Abdul Ado — and it has to like what it sees. Ado will try to build upon his first collegiate double-double Wednesday night as he leads the Bulldogs into a home encounter with Stephen F. Austin.
Mississippi State had to wait for Ado to make his Bulldogs debut; he redshirted last year due to academics and missed the season opener with a quad injury. But he posted 12 points and 11 boards in a 77-68 win over Green Bay and is averaging 12 points and 9 rebounds through two games — and best of all, he’s feeling more comfortable in the process. “After the first game we played, my nervousness went away,” Ado recently told reporters. “I talked to my teammates about it, and they told me to just focus on the next game. That is all I try to do, and I take it very serious every day in practice. I am trying to do whatever I can to help my team win.” Stephen F. Austin is on a roll to start the season, remaining unbeaten with a 118-64 rout of Division III Howard Payne.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, SEC Network Plus
ABOUT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (4-0): The Lumberjacks have been a three-man show through the first five games, with Kevon Harris, Shannon Bogues and TJ Holyfield each averaging at least 18.8 points per game. It was Holyfield’s time to shine in the victory over Howard Payne, scoring 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting while adding nine rebounds and a season-high five steals. Bogues was the team’s high scorer with 30 points in the contest, and connected on 3-of-7 attempts from long range after making just one of his first nine 3-point shots through the opening three games.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-0): Ado has done a little bit of everything in his two-game audition with Mississippi State, blocking five shots while adding two steals and shooting 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. Balanced scoring has been the Bulldogs’ trademark to date, with seven players averaging at least nine points per game. Junior forward Aric Holman has been the most efficient player of the bunch, averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds in just 20.7 minutes of action; he had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the triumph over Green Bay and has hit at least one 3-pointer in all three games.
1. The Bulldogs average 7.7 blocks per game, tied for seventh-most in the nation.
2. Mississippi State ranks in the top-15 nationally in turnovers forced per game (20.0).
3. Stephen F. Austin sits outside the national top 300 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.72.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 88, Stephen F. Austin 62