Mississippi State player and Starkville native Gavin Ware (20) tries to work his way out of a crowd against Vanderbilt. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Mississippi State men's basketball team wants to get back its competitive spirit.
One thing that could bring that about is a matchup against the arch rival.
The Bulldogs (7-20 overall, 2-13 Southeastern Conference) host in-state rival Ole Miss (21-7, 10-5) today. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports Net.Â
The Rebels took a 93-75 decision earlier in the year in Oxford. MSU looks to avenge that loss, and will try to have a different mindset in this game.
"We didn't have enough competitive spirit," Bulldog freshman forward and Starkville native Gavin Ware said, who is seventh in the MSU record books with 174 rebounds as a freshman. "I think that affected us in the way we played. We just played down without enthusiasm, without confidence and (without) motivation. Coming into this next game against Ole Miss, we just have to bring our motivation and our confidence."
MSU started out the game slow and fell behind early to Ole Miss. The Bulldogs tried to make a late run in the game, but they fell victim to foul trouble.
Ware fouled out late in the game.
"We are just going to have to have a stable defense and not get in foul trouble," Ware said. "(We) just (need to) do the simple things."
MSU has not been swept by Ole Miss since 1998. Since 1984, the Bulldogs have only been swept twice by the Rebels.
State has won the last three games against the Rebels inside Humphrey Coliseum and 13 out of the last 14.
"It's a privilege and an honor just to play Ole Miss," Ware said. "It's a historic game. I'm just looking forward to it."
In the last showing by the Bulldogs at home against Vanderbilt last Saturday, there were less than 40 students in attendance.
MSU head coach Rick Ray has been trying to correct that this week. Throughout the week, Ray has visited fraternity houses, sorority houses and student organizations.
He is trying to get students to come out in full force to help cheer the Bulldogs on against the Rebels.
"It would help us greatly in the motivational factor," Ware said. "It would help us play even better because we have students that are loyal fans."
Mississippi State has lost 13-straight games.
In the first meeting, Ole Miss got 31 points from Marshall Henderson and 24 from Murphy Holloway.
Henderson has been coming off the bench the last week and that trend looks to continue.
Freshman guard Craig Sword leads MSU with 9.8 points per game. Junior guard Jalen Steele adds 9.7 points per outing and freshman guard Fred Thomas adds 9.6 points per contest.
Ware is fourth on the team with an 8.7 points per clip.
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