STARKVILLE – He told you.
Almost eight months ago, before chris jans‘ had even touched Starkville soil, made his intentions for his new team known in his first interview as Mississippi State coach while on a plane headed for his new home.
“At the end of the day, we want to have rebounding, toughness and defense in our back pocket,” Jans said at the time. “It’s the old cliché about how all that stuff travels on buses and planes. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the shots don’t come down, but you can still win games even if you’re not shooting the ball well.”
It was a nice date at the time, but three games into the Jans era at MSU, you see it was so much more than just talk. Jans is all about action and doing what he says, and he has a team that is practicing everything he preaches.
Coming off Sunday’s 80-47 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Bulldogs are 3-0. A couple of common themes in the winning trio have been State’s relentless defense and endless pursuit of basketball. The Dawgs emphasize those things in their practices and carry over to game day.
Let’s start with the defense. Mississippi State has allowed just 48.33 points per game this season. That’s the best in the entire Southeastern Conference and the 13the-Best brand in the country. The Bulldogs have held their opponents to a 31.3 percent field goal percentage, which ranks second in the league and 19th.the in the nation Ah, but there’s more as this defense is performing at a historic pace.
Remember the aforementioned 48.33 points per game? That’s the fewest amount of offense the Bulldogs have allowed in three games in modern program history, dating back to the 1955-56 campaign and the first season of legendary coach Babe McCarthy.
MSU’s defense has been particularly stingy in the last 20 minutes of games so far this year. The Dawgs have held foes to just 26-of-85 shooting (30.6 percent) in the second half. It served as a spark for State’s offense, as Maroon and White outscored their opponents 115-69 after halftime.
“From the first day he entered, [Coach Jans has] been making defense our focal point,” dj jeffries said. “That’s what he wants us to do. We go out and pressure people with our defense and let our defense create our offense.”
Of course, the state offense is also helped by the way these Dawgs break the boards. MSU has had the rebounding advantage in all three games this season, most recently holding a 46-34 rebounding advantage over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. State has outrebounded their last two opponents by a +30 margin. On average this season, MSU has a rebounding margin of +13, a total that ranks second in the SEC.
But the Bulldogs aren’t just chasing missed shots. They will also take the ball from you. MSU’s 12 steals per game rank third in the SEC and 25ththe in all college hoops.
As good as it all is, here are the best stats of all for the State. He has led to a +23.67 scoring margin that has allowed MSU and Jans to remain undefeated in three. Jans is now 10the head coach in state hoops history to win their first three games.
Defending. Bouncing. Tenacity.
Jans knew those three ingredients were a recipe for success, and his Dawgs have been proving it early on in his state tenure.