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Stansbury, MSU will try to find answers


David Miller



STARKVILLE -- Rick Stansbury doesn''t believe showing his Mississippi State men''s basketball team the game film of its loss to the University of Tennessee on Saturday will help it prepare for the Southeastern Conference Tournament. 


But the veteran coach hasn''t been able to get the deflating defeat off his mind. 


Two days after the MSU lost to Tennessee 75-59 on Senior Night at Humphrey Coliseum, Stansbury pondered what he could have done to help the Bulldogs combat the Volunteers'' barrage that helped them build a17-0 lead in less than five minutes. 


The deficit proved too much for the Bulldogs, who cut the lead to nine but were turned away in all other attempts. 


The emotion of Senior Night for Jarvis Varnado and Barry Stewart, coupled with the NCAA tournament implications of defeating a high-RPI team like Tennessee (No. 13 through Sunday, according to resulted in an effort in which Stansbury said his players "were never a serious threat." 


The loss was MSU''s second in as many games, and it came after the Bulldogs had secured a share of the SEC Western Division title and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. 


Still, the week of the SEC Tournament, where MSU will need to win one to two games for a shot at the NCAA tournament, started with Stansbury lamenting Saturday''s letdown. 


"Can you believe I''ve thought about it quite a bit since we walked out here?" Stansbury asked reporters Monday at the weekly media gathering. "I chopped up what we did before and asked myself, ''What could I have done different for us not to be like we were early in that game?'' Could we have done something different?" 


Stansbury described the loss as if it was personal, and said he was disappointed with his team''s performance considering what was at stake. 


"We had more to get and we didn''t get it. I didn''t do a good enough job of getting ready for that last game." he said. 


Stansbury is 9-3 in Senior Night games, but the loss to Tennessee left more questions than answers. He said he contemplated making changes to how Senior Night festivities are handled in the future, and mentioned other Senior Nights that went wrong (South Carolina beating Vanderbilt and Iowa State topping Kansas State) as examples of his thinking. 


"Did we feel the pressure of all that? The emotion of Senior Night? Was it all too long?" Stansbury said. "When you talk about what I''ve thought about the last two days, I''ve chopped it up, chopped it up. ... It''d be easy to say I''d never have a Senior Night like that again." 


Stansbury and the Bulldogs (21-10, 9-7 SEC) will face the winner of Auburn-Florida at 6:30 p.m. Friday (WCBI) in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. 




Bost likely to play Friday; Bulldogs rest 


After suffering what Stansbury called a hip pointer Saturday, MSU point guard Dee Bost''s status for Friday''s game remained uncertain Monday. 


Stansbury said he hadn''t since Bost since Saturday and that he talked to a team trainer that told him Bost was "really sore" Sunday. 


Bost played 35 minutes Saturday, despite being slowed after halftime. 


"I haven''t heard anything about it," MSU shooting guard Barry Stewart said. "Dee''s our point guard, and whether he''s going or not, he helps." 


In an effort to rest his over-worked starters and to combat the team''s lack of depth, Stansbury gave the Bulldogs a second straight day off. They will return to work today. 


"With the minutes Jarvis and Dee have played, we''re probably blessed (to be in current position)," Stansbury said. "This time will be good for us. We can use the rest mentally and physically." 




Calipari campaigns for MSU 


Monday''s teleconference was full of conversation about which SEC teams should make the tournament and how many teams earning bids would be a disappointment. 


The popular feeling is the SEC will get four teams into the NCAA tournament, with the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Florida the frontrunners. Florida is on the bubble, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State needing wins in the SEC Tournament to bolster their hopes. 


Kentucky coach John Calipari said Florida should get in, but backed MSU. The Wildcats needed overtime to beat the Bulldogs in Starkville. 


"I like their team," he said. "I think if they get in like they should, they''ll beat a couple teams. They block shots, they''re a great defensive team, and they shoot the ball well. A lot of people will be surprised." 




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