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Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele tears ACL, meniscus in right knee

Mar 7, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT

Jalen Steele, Kenny Boynton AP

If Mississippi State didn’t have bad luck in the first year of the Rick Ray era they’d would have none.

Since Ray took over in Starkville four players have suffered season-ending knee injuries, with junior guard Jalen Steele becoming the fourth after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in Wednesday’s loss to South Carolina.

Steele suffered the injury during the second half, and for the season he averaged 10.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

Due to their lack of both depth and experience Mississippi State has struggled mightily this season, tallying just eight wins (8-21 overall, 3-14 SEC) heading into their season finale on Saturday against Auburn.

According to Brandon Marcello of the Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi State will have just six scholarship players available for Saturday’s game.

In addition to Steele, Wendell Lewis, Jacoby Davis and Andre Applewhite all suffered season-ending knee injuries this season. This is Steele’s second major knee injury during his time at Mississippi State, as he tore the ACL in his left knee back in 2011.

Mississippi State lost every key contributor from last season’s 21-win team, with the departure of one of the SEC’s best freshmen in Rodney Hood (transferred to Duke) being the toughest blow to take when considering the future of the program. With that in mind, and the injuries that sapped what little depth the Bulldogs had to begin with, Mississippi State’s struggles haven’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The Bulldogs have three commitments in the 2013 class, led by shooting guard Travis Daniels, and the recovery of players such as Steele and Lewis will be just as important to the future of the Mississippi State program.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.