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MSU takes confidence to South Carolina

March 6, 2013

Mississippi State forward Colin Borchert (3) dribbles past South Carolina forward Lakeem Jackson (30) in the earlier meeting in Starkville. (Photo by Rogelio Solis, AP)

The Mississippi State men's basketball team has seen a boost in its confidence.

The Bulldogs snapped a 13-game losing streak by beating in-state rival Ole Miss last Saturday. 

"Obviously, our guys are happy and ecstatic," MSU head coach Rick Ray said during his Tuesday press conference. "Losing 13 straight ball games for these kids has been hard on them and then to finally get a win and get it against your in-state rival has been good for them. I want them to enjoy the win, but I don’t want them to revel in it."

Now their attention must turn to another familiar opponent.

The Bulldogs (8-20, 3-13) travels to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks (13-16, 3-13) today. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen online at ESPN3.

MSU knocked off the South Carolina in their first meeting on Jan. 9. The Bulldogs took a 56-54 decision.

"I don’t want to hearken back on that South Carolina win because what happened is we forced so many turnovers (24) and scored a lot of points off of turnovers (28), so we’re going to have to find another way to win the ballgame," Ray said in Monday's Southeastern Conference teleconference. "I don’t imagine South Carolina will turn the basketball over that much against us again. We’re going to have to find a way to manufacture some points and get another way to win. We’ve got motivation in that regard because I just don’t think South Carolina will turn the basketball over that much against us again.”

MSU has won seven-straight against South Carolina. The Bulldogs have won their last three meetings in Columbia, S.C., and are looking for their second SEC road win which matches the total from last year. 

The Gamecocks will be honoring their seniors as the Bulldogs look to spoil their day.

MSU and South Carolina are battling to improve its seeds. The winner will have the inside shot to the No. 12 seed.

"We head to the last week of SEC play as everyone's aware," South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. "We have our senior night here against Mississippi State, which feels like we played them thee years ago. It's the second game of a home-home with them."

Against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs saw a rise in junior forward Colin Borchert's play. Borchert scored a career-high 21 points. 

"I think sometimes Colin just goes out of himself to try to score at times," Ray said. "He tries to manufacture offense instead of just beating guys off close-outs. It's pretty simple. If they close out short, shoot it. If they rush you because they're worried about your ability to shoot 3's, then drive past them."

MSU is looking to end the regular season with three straight wins. The Bulldogs have experienced a good amount of adversity this season, but still have a chance to finish up strong.

"We’ve got the biggest teacher of all," Ray said. "We can just look at what we did, going out and winning against South Carolina and Georgia and then going and losing 13 straight."

The Gamecocks are led by senior and Southern Mississippi transfer LaShay Page. Page is averaging 11.7 points per game. Freshman Michael Carrera and junior Brenton Williams are both averaging just over 10 points per outing.

MSU is led by junior guard Jalen Steele and freshman guard Craig Sword. They are both averaging 9.7 points per game. Freshman guard Fred Thomas adds 9.4 points per contest. 

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