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SMITH COLUMN: MSU's loss to Missouri wasn't pretty

February 14, 2013

Smith

It was not very pretty on the basketball court Wednesday night for Mississippi State.

During a season when quite a bit has gone wrong for the Bulldogs, it got worse against the Missouri Tigers.

All phases of the game seemed to work against MSU in a 78-36 loss at Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs were out-shot, out-rebounded and sadly out-hustled at times, especially in the first half.

MSU, which fell to 7-15 overall and 2-8 in the Southeastern Conference, missed its first 11 shots from the field and only hit 4-of-25 in the first half for 16 percent. The Bulldogs only had 10 points in the first half, which was believed to be tied for the lowest output for a Southeastern Conference team this season, matching the 10 points by South Carolina against Florida.

The defense wasn't much better for MSU. The Tigers, especially guard Keion Bell, scored at will in the first half. Bell had 16 of the 34 points for Missouri in the first half.

Things got a little better for the Bulldogs in the second half, but definitely not good enough to brag about. MSU shot 24 percent (11-of-46) from the field, 16 percent (3-of-19) from 3-point range and 50 percent (11-of-22) from the free-throw line for the game.

The last time the Bulldogs scored 40 points or less in a game was when they matched 36 against George Washington on Dec. 8, 1996.

The 42-point loss was the largest in Humphrey Coliseum history and the nine-game losing streak ties for the fourth-longest in school history.

As the situation continued to go sour in the second half for MSU, frustration started to set in for players and fans.

There was a smattering of boos throughout Humphrey Coliseum and Bulldog freshman Gavin Ware of Starkville reached up to swat the net with 4:39 left in the game.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Ware did come back a bit in the second and finished with seven points.

In his first year as the head coach at MSU, Rick Ray has had the deck stacked against him at times because of injury and suspensions.

There's nothing that can be done about injuries. They are going to happen. Administering discipline is something Ray believes is necessary and he has to be respected for taking a stand.

No matter the reason, the numbers are just not there right now for the Bulldogs and that makes it extremely difficult to compete.

Ray probably feels like he is going to fight a wildfire with a water gun most nights. MSU was down to six scholarship players and eight total against Missouri. Craig Sword went down with an injury in the first half that made MSU even more shorthanded for a time during the game. He was able to come back in the second half.

As bad as it looks for the Bulldogs right now and it's probably going to get worse before it gets better, this is not the time to put the finger of blame on anyone.

This is the first season for Ray and this coaching staff. There needs to be a measure of patience granted to see if things can start turning around for this team.

It's going to take time to shake out of this slump MSU finds itself in.
Hopefully, Wednesday night the Bulldogs bottomed out and they can start moving in a more positive direction.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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