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MSU looks to bounce back from loss to LSU

 

Danny P Smith

 

STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State men''s basketball team is looking to bounce back again on the road after a tough loss in the Southeastern Conference. 

 

Mississippi State (16-8, 6-3 SEC) has rebounded twice since the conference schedule began and will face that situation at 4 p.m. Saturday at Auburn. 

 

After losing at LSU 81-57 on Jan. 21, the Bulldogs defeated Georgia 67-61 in Athens. MSU then defeated Kentucky 66-57 in Lexington, Ky., following a disappointing 67-63 home loss to Ole Miss. 

 

Except for losing consecutive games to Washington State and Texas Tech in the championship round of the Legends Classic in November, the Bulldogs have recovered from losses to get a victory this season. 

 

MSU spent quite a bit of energy Wednesday in a 97-94 double overtime loss to LSU. 

 

"We had opportunity after opportunity to win," Stansbury said. "Those games are harder to swallow than the ones where you just get beat." 

 

The Bulldogs know they have to show some resiliency with only a short time to recover. 

 

"It''s a test for this team again," junior guard Barry Stewart said. "Every time we''ve had a loss, we''ve come back with a win. (The LSU loss) is probably the toughest one of all of them. This will be a good game for us, but we''ve just got to get our heads focused again." 

 

Stewart, who is one point shy of becoming the 30th player in MSU''s 1,000-point club, averages 11.1 points per game, while junior center Jarvis Varnado (13.1 ppg.), sophomore guard Ravern Johnson (12.1 ppg.), and freshman point guard Dee Bost (10.9 ppg.) also average in double figures. 

 

"They present a lot of problems with their ability to shoot from 3, so that''s an area we''ll try to focus on," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "What makes them hard to defend is the four guys on perimeter and a guy inside that can score. It''s hard to matchup against a team with this type of offensive setup." 

 

Junior Dwayne Reed (13.2 ppg.), senior Korvotney Barber (12.8 ppg., 9.2 rebounds per game), and junior Tay Waller (11.3 ppg) led the Tigers (15-9, 4-5). 

 

n Ole Miss at LSU -- 6 p.m., Saturday: LSU coach Trent Johnson doesn''t consider it much of a reward returning home to play Mississippi after surviving in double overtime at MSU. 

 

The Rebels (13-10, 4-5) are well rested (they didn''t play a mid-week game), and LSU coach Trent Johnson is not looking forward to facing freshman point guard Terrico White (11.2 ppg.). 

 

"It''s a scary thought," said Johnson, whose team leads the Western Division at 20-4 and 8-1. "This league has some talented freshmen, and I''m not sure he''s not the best when you look at his athletic ability. His development is very impressive." 

 

David Huertas (19.3 ppg.) leads the Rebels in scoring and ranks fourth in the SEC.  

 

LSU''s Tasmin Mitchell was recognized as SEC Player of the Week earlier this week. He might be working on getting that honor again after scoring a career-high 41 points and pulling down 11 rebounds against the Bulldogs. 

 

"Tasmin Mitchell (is amazing) what he continues to do," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "He''s playing with a maturity and a sense of urgency. He''s really playing great basketball." 

 

n South Carolina at Alabama -- 2 p.m. Saturday: Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson hopes freshman post player JaMychal Green will be well enough to play against the Gamecocks. 

 

Green fell hard on his hip in last Sunday''s 76-62 loss to LSU and has been limited in practice this week. 

 

"He''s been getting treatment two to three times a day all week long," Pearson said. "He has been doing some running and light stretching. Hopefully he can move a little closer to being full speed (Thursday). I would anticipate he will be able to play in the game." 

 

It helped Green that the Crimson Tide (13-10, 3-6) did not play a mid-week game. 

 

Pearson will look to get senior leadership down the stretch from Alonzo Gee (14 ppg.) and Brandon Hollinger. 

 

"I''ve talked to both of those guys about helping our team through this situation," said Pearson, who assumed the coaching duties after Mark Gottfried resigned. "They have been in this program for 3 1/2 years and they need to provide some good leadership on and off the floor as we continue to finish up this season." 

 

South Carolina (17-5, 6-3) is in a first-place tie with Florida and Kentucky at the top of the Eastern Division.

 

 

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