NCAA Basketball

No. 13 Texas Tech, Mississippi St. look to rebound from OT losses

Every loss stings in one way or another, but dropping a game in overtime as an underdog in one of college basketball's most hostile environments hits a little differently.

That might seem like perfect motivation for a team the next time out -- unless the opponent is grappling with the same punch-in-the-gut feeling.

Mississippi State visits 13th-ranked Texas Tech on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, and both teams will take the court wounded and inspired after they lost in OT at Kentucky and Kansas, respectively, earlier this week.

And while this midseason matchup is mostly a high-level exhibition game -- with RPI and strength-of-schedule ramifications attached -- recovering from those defeats is high on the priority list for the Bulldogs (13-6) and Red Raiders (15-5).

"You've got to try to look at the ability to learn from games like these," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said after his crew rallied from a 16-point, second-half deficit to force OT vs. the 12th-ranked Wildcats, who prevailed 82-74 after the extra session.

"We're going to have more games like these," Howland added. "We've got a lot of tough road games ahead, including one against one of the best teams in the country on Saturday at Texas Tech. Hopefully, our guys learn from it. One of the biggest things is mental toughness. You've got to be mentally tough especially in an environment like (Kentucky) when it's us against the world.

"I think being in this environment and seeing that we had great opportunities encouraged our guys. I hope they saw it and are motivated by it going forward."

Bulldogs junior guard Iverson Molinar certainly played with motivation against the Wildcats with a career-high 30 points, 22 in the second half. Backcourt mate Shakeel Moore was also a key with three 3-pointers.

"Everyone wants to have momentum to prepare for the next game," Molinar said. "We came up short (Tuesday), but we're going to learn from this, execute and come out better in the next game."

Texas Tech is relying on a similar mantra -- not just in regard to Saturday but the rest of the season.

The Red Raiders rallied from a 12-point deficit against the fifth-ranked Jayhawks and held leads in both overtimes but couldn't slam the door.

Kansas star Ochai Agbaji forced the second OT with a clutch 3-pointer, and the Jayhawks solved Texas Tech's sticky defense enough to erase a five-point lead late in the first extra period.

"I thought we stood toe to toe with them," first-year Red Raiders coach Mark Adams said. "We dug a hole for us, several times. At halftime, we were behind and got even further behind with about 10 (minutes) to go but came back. ... I thought we were going to win it in that first overtime."

Like Molinar, Texas Tech senior Bryson Williams delivered a career-best outing with 33 points by hitting 14 of 19 field-goal attempts.

"I've got teammates that believe in me," Williams said. "I've got a coaching staff that believes in me. And I just came out to be aggressive and just try to do whatever I can to help this team win."

Letting that chance slip away is a lingering hurt but also could double as a nice building block.

"It leaves a pit of fire in our stomach we're just going to carry throughout the whole season," Williams said.

The Bulldogs can relate.

After getting to overtime, they made only 1 of 7 shots from the floor and managed only two points in the bonus five minutes.

"We've just got to learn from this and bounce back," Howland said. "I think being in this environment and seeing that we had great opportunities encouraged our guys. I hope they saw it and are motivated by it going forward."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 28, 2022

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