The Mississippi State Bulldogs take the floor tonight knowing they have better effort to give than their last outing against Ole Miss.
MSU dropped a 75-68 decision in Oxford where the Rebels simply wanted the win more.
This time the Bulldogs (18-5, 5-3) have the opportunity to redeem themselves in front of a sold out crowd in the Humphrey Coliseum. The game is set for a 6 p.m. tip and will be televised on ESPN2.
“We didn't play our best game and they played awful well,” said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. “It's never easy on the road and they are awful good there. Obviously, we don't want to put them on the free-throw line as much as we did up there and offensive rebounding was a factor in that game. We have to play better than we played the last time.”
In Oxford, Reginald Buckner dominated the glass with a career-high 15 rebounds and that’s something Stansbury knows can’t happen in Starkville.
“Well, we can't let him get as many easy rebounds around the rim, dunks, putbacks and those things,” said Stansbury. “That's where he was his best in that first game. He got several offensive rebounds, got some easy baskets around that zone. Can't let that happen. That's for sure.”
This time around the Bulldogs will also be facing a much more confident guard in Nick Williams. In the first outing, he had 17 points against MSU and since that time has done nothing but build confidence.
“He's a good player who can shoot the basketball," Stansbury said. "That's something he's always been able to do. He went to Indiana and that was his role and now since they've lost Dundrecous (Nelson), they've settled in.
“Sometimes you get better by subtraction and I think they did. Their chemistry got better and their roles got better. He was a guy that wasn't playing as much and was kind of in and out of the game because of Dundrecous, but I think (Ole Miss head coach) Andy (Kennedy) would tell you he's a good kid, a solid kid and because he's settled into that role, he's playing better.”
State hopes to have some new faces of their own step up today as State will turn to Shaun Smith to help provide productive minutes off the bench.
“Shaun gave us some minutes (against Auburn)," Stansbury said. "As much as we needed to give some guys some rest a little bit, those were, I think 7 minutes, 7 good minutes. They were productive minutes. He stepped up and made two big free throws late in the game and knocked down that three and those were good minutes. He needs to build on that now.”
Arnett Moultrie continues to pace the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points per game and 11.1 rebounds. He also leads the SEC with 13 double-doubles this season.
Dee Bost on average adds 15.8 points per game but will be expected to do a better job of distributing the basketball getting Jalen Steele, who is on a bit of a hot streak, the basketball.
The one thing Stansbury doesn’t expect to see as much of in this matchup, a zone defense.
“I don’t know if they were begging us to shoot it, you don’t have to beg us much to shoot it, we’ll shoot it,” Stansbury said. “When you’re on the road, people will zone up on you a little bit more. I think that’s the thing, we have pretty good balance against the zone. I don’t think we are a team that you look at and say, ‘man, they can’t shoot it, we need to zone them.’ I don’t think we are one of those teams. Some nights are better than others and some nights we can get on a role and really, really shoot it. I don’t think we are a team where the stats say that you have to zone them.”