Mississippi State men's basketball team reached last year’s win total this season before the start of Southeastern Conference play.
The Bulldogs knocked of Maryland-Eastern Shore last Thursday to reach 10 wins, matching all of last year, and sits at 10-3 as they enter SEC play on Wednesday at Lexington, Kent., to take on No. 15 Kentucky.
MSU head coach Rick Ray was pleased with how his team handled the non-conference part of their schedule.
“We’ve had a successful non-conference,” Ray said on Monday’s SEC teleconference. “The fact that we’re able to get to 10 wins as a team already, when we didn’t get to 10 wins until March of last season, speaks well to the progress of this is making.”
When asked what the biggest difference is with his team from last year to this year, Ray simply responded “maturity.”
on the rise
The MSU offense struggled at times last year.
This year it has gotten better and is another reason the Bulldogs sit where they sit.
State has increased its points per game production by nearly 10 points. The Bulldogs also have two more assists and are shooting 46.1 percent from the field, six percentage points higher than last year.
Sophomore guard Craig Sword is averaging 14.3 points per game and had a stretch of 20-plus games midway through the non-conference schedule.
“We’re still not able to shoot the basketball the way we want to shoot the basketball, but I don’t think we take bad shots,” Ray said. “When you take bad shots, it’s the same thing as a turnover, so it really hurts your defense.”
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