Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury, left, looks for a big game from Dee Bost, second from left, during the Southeastern Conference Tournament. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 3-5 record during the second half of Southeastern Conference play, including a five-game skid that began with a loss to Georgia.
Tonight in the New Orleans Arena, MSU has its shot at revenge on one the biggest of stages, the SEC Tournament.
â€śNo matter who would we play, we got to treat them all the same," said first-team All-SEC point guard Dee Bost of State. "I was happy because, you know, they beat us so we got to come in with the mentality, a different mentality, and we feel we owe Georgia one. They got us on our home court, and we know how important it is to get a win as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned."â€¨
Georgia entered the Humphrey Coliseum and snapped a 13-game home win streak, shocking the maroon clad Bulldogs with a 70-68 overtime defeat.â€¨â€śWe didnâ€™t play our best against Georgia,â€ť said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. â€śTake nothing away from Georgia. They played well, and theyâ€™re like everybody else, if youâ€™re not at your best, they can beat you.â€ť
â€¨While that setback fuels State to bounce back against UGA, it's also riding the momentum of a two-game win streak that has boosted its confidence in being able to make a run in New Orleans.
â€śI feel like weâ€™re coming out playing harder and playing together,â€ť said Bost, who is averaging 15.8 points per outing. â€śWe had a five-game losing streak, but I feel like we got it together now.â€ťâ€¨
Arnett Moultrie agreed the Bulldogs are playing with more poise and confidence heading into their rematch with UGA. The MSU forward, who leads the league with 18 double-doubles and averages 16.1 points per game, knows what his role must be in order to pick up the first round win.
â€śI got to do a better job of blocking those guys out and limiting their offensive rebounds,â€ť said Moultrie. â€¨Stansbury agreed that Moultrie plays a big role as the Bulldogs look to work the post.
â€śItâ€™s no secret," said Stansbury, who has 16 tournament wins to his credit, third most in the SEC. "Thatâ€™s every game.Â We try to throw it inside every game, and if the opponent would agree to us, then it becomes easy.Â The opponent has a lot to do and say what goes on, and how you do things.â€ť
â€¨State has NCAA seeding riding on tonightâ€™s outcome. A win and MSU is alive, but lose and it's likely the NIT.Â All the Bulldogs are looking for is a chance and they like the opportunity theyâ€™ve been given.
â€śI donâ€™t think thereâ€™s any question that we have an opportunity," Stansbury said. "We have a chance.Â Thatâ€™s all you ask for. An opportunity and a chance.Â Itâ€™s four games for us.Â Take them one at a time.Â None of them are easy.Â One of the most difficult ones is always that first with you.â€ť
â€¨MSU and UGA take the court at 9 p.m. for a game televised on the SEC Network with the winner earning the opportunity to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in round two action.
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