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State emerges as one of surprise SEC teams

January 14, 2013

Many people might find it hard to believe that the Mississippi State men's basketball team is 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

The Bulldogs ended non-conference play with a 5-7 record, but have managed to win their first two games of the conference slate.

MSU beat South Carolina 56-54 at home to open conference play and followed that up with a 72-61 win over Georgia on the road.

The Bulldogs have won their last three games starting with a victory over New Orelans.

"Obviously, (we're) really pleased with the start we've gotten off (to) in SEC play," MSU head coach Rick Ray said during the SEC teleconference on Monday. "I thought we had really turned a corner as a ball club with the win against New Orleans, then to go out and win a game against South Carolina, then especially going on the road and winning at Georgia. I think our team is steadily improving."

The Bulldogs have improved. Against South Carolina, they shot 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. Against Georgia, MSU shot 9-of-20 for 45 percent.

With only seven healthy scholarship players and two walk-ons available, Ray is still concerned with the depth of the Bulldogs.

"There was times out there where the tallest guy on the court was 6-5 and played a lot of stretches with the tallest guy on the court being 6-7," Ray said. "We've got to continue to combat that, but I'm really pleased with the way our team is competing, playing hard, and continuing to improve."

Before MSU started its three-game win streak, it dropped a 59-57 decision to Alabama A&M at home.

"I hope we don't have to continue to bottom out in order to get better," Ray said. "(In) the game against Alabama A&M, we played so well in the first 15 minutes and then we just went into a lull."

The Bulldogs are looking to make it four in a row and move to 3-0 in the SEC when they host Alabama on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

The SEC games today are Tennessee at Kentucky and Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, then the Wednesday games, other than Alabama at Mississippi State, are Auburn at Arkansas, Georgia at Missouri and South Carolina at LSU. Florida plays at Texas A&M on Thursday, and Saturday's slate has Mississippi State at Tennessee, Arkansas at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt at South Carolina, Missouri at Florida, Texas A&M at Alabama, LSU at Georgia and Kentucky at Auburn.

Rebels now turn attention
to Vanderbilt after 2-0 start

The Ole Miss Rebels have started the season 13-2 and 2-0 in SEC play.

That all goes out the window when they play Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. tonight. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

"Being 2-0 in the SEC comes with normal challenges," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We head to Nashville to play in a very difficult venue. Most of our guys have never been in that gym before. (There's) a lot of history. They don't lose many games there. We know that's going to be a battle."

The Rebels are coming off a 64-49 win over No. 10 (Associated Press) Missouri on Saturday at home.

"You've got to flush the game you just played, whether it be a win or a loss, the very next day to prepare for your upcoming opponent," Kennedy said.

Unlike other gyms, Memorial Gymnasium has team benches under the basket. Most gyms have team benches on the sidelines.

"We had a discussion about the configuration of the court and how it's going to be different when plays are away from your bench," Kennedy said. "We've really got to be dependent upon the guys taking ownership and communicating amongst themselves. Coaches are typically eliminated from the equation when the ball  is away from you."

Texas A&M Turner wins
SEC player of the week

Texas A&M senior guard Elston Turner was honored with the SEC Player of the Week after the first full week of conference play.

He scored 15 points and had eight rebounds against Arkansas. He backed that up with 40 points against Kentucky on the road on Saturday.

"We are thankful and excited to be 2-0, (by) beating Arkanas at home and winning at Kentucky with the special performance from Elston Turner," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "We wouldn't had a chance (without Turner). We were able to take advantage of that with the 40-point performance."

Calipari not worried
about mood at Rupp

Kentucky is coming off an 83-71 loss to Texas A&M in Lexington, which is a result that usually doesn't set well with the faithful fans of Rupp Arena.

The Wildcats are back at home against Tennessee tonight at 6 p.m.

Kentucky head coach John Calipai is not worried about the fans interest after his team's records dropped to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the league.

"It's still going to come down to two teams playing and who plays better that given day," Calipari said. "Our fans have been great. Our crowd for Texas A&M was outstanding.
"It's not the arena. It'll be our team."

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