It will be a top 25 battle in Gainesville, Fla. today when No. 16 Mississippi State hits the road to take on No. 13 Florida in a 12:30 p.m. tip inside the O’Connell Center on the University of Florida campus.
The Bulldogs are looking for their third win in a row and their second consecutive Southeastern Conference road win as they come off their midweek outing, a 71-64 win over LSU.
“It’s never easy going on the road, and Florida is certainly one of those places that has proven to be difficult to play,” said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. “We can’t get caught up in the crowd, and at the same time, we know we have to be at our best to have a chance.”
State (17-4 overall, 4-2 SEC) has had success in recent years over the Gators winning four out of their last five meetings and two of the last four in Gainesville.
Florida (16-4, 4-1) picked up a road win of its own as they defeated Ole Miss 64-60 on Thursday night rallying from 16 points down. The victory was the fourth consecutive win for Billy Donovan’s club after opening conference play with a loss to Georgia.
The Gators are primarily a guard-oriented team with junior Kenny Boynton leading the way averaging 18 points an outing while freshman guard Bradley Beal adds 13.9 points per game.
The Bulldogs will offset the guard play with senior point guard Dee Bost who is averaging 16 points per game to go with 4.7 assists.
The x-factor in this contest could prove to be MSU forward Arnett Moultrie who has been on fire in his last two outings.
For the season, Moultrie leads the league with 12 double-doubles and averages 17.1 points per game and 11.2 rebounds (a league best). Over his last two games, he is averaging 24.5 points and has claimed 28 rebounds.
Mississippi State has been short of depth this season but that hasn’t seemed to bother the Bulldogs of late.
Three of State’s players are the leaders in minutes played for the SEC and Bost, freshman Rodney Hood, and Moultrie log an average of 34.9, 34.2 and 34.1 minutes, respectively.
After today, MSU is off for a week before returning to action Feb. 4 at home against Auburn.