March 4, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State freshman point guard Dee Bost will have his defensive skills tested again tonight.
Bost has chased some of the best point guards in the Southeastern Conference this season, including South Carolina''s Devan Downey and Arkansas'' Courtney Fortson.
Another one comes along at 7 tonight when MSU plays host to Nick Calathes and the Florida Gators in a SEC game at Humphrey Coliseum.
Bost knows he will not only have to outplay and outthink Calathes.
"He''s not just one of the quickest point guards, but also one of the smartest," Bost said. "It''s a challenge, and I will try to step up to it. Most important, the team has to come out with a win, and lately it hasn''t been that way."
MSU (17-12, 7-7 SEC) will try to snap a three-game losing streak and improve its postseason resume.
After a 76-58 loss to Auburn on Saturday, Bost said there hasn''t been much said around the locker room.
He expects the Bulldogs to overcome the frustration as they prepare for Florida.
"It''s down," Bost said of the mood. "It''s just quiet. We just have to go out there, practice hard, and get ready to play again."
It won''t be easy an easy task to take down Calathes and the Gators (21-8, 8-6), who are tied the Kentucky Wildcats one game behind South Carolina and Tennessee in the SEC Eastern Division with two games left in the regular season.
Calathes, who averages 18.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, can be hard to handle for anyone, much less a freshman like Bost.
"He''s a tough matchup," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "Nobody has really shut him down, and he''s a terrific player. He''s going to be a load, but we''ve gone up against good players in this league. He''ll just be another challenge."
Senior Walter Hodge (8.3 ppg.) joins Calathes in the backcourt, while sophomore Chandler Parsons (10.2 ppg.) and junior Dan Werner (8.7 ppg.) are the forwards and sophomore Alex Tyus (12.3 ppg.) is the center.
Stansbury knows Florida coach Billy Donovan builds a team with offense in mind, as Florida''s 79 points per game average indicates. The Gators average 83.1 points per outing in league wins and 72.2 points per game in conference losses.
"Florida is a real good offensive team and have been put together that way from day one," Stansbury said. "They are always one of the most skilled and better offensive teams in the league. They won''t come in here and do anything different. They are going to get the ball up and down the floor. They have got multiple guys who can really shoot it."
Florida is coming off back-to-back losses to LSU (81-75) and Tennessee (79-75). The Gators played the Volunteers on Sunday, and Donovan is concerned about the quick turnaround and not having a lot of time to prepare for the Bulldogs'' four-guard lineup and junior Jarvis Varnado (13.1 ppg., 9.1 rpg.) in the middle.
"They have a unique team in that they have such a great shot blocker in Varnado and a phenomenal shooting team," Donovan said.
Junior Barry Stewart (11.9 ppg.), sophomore Ravern Johnson (12.5 ppg.), sophomore Phil Turner (8.7 ppg.), and Bost (11.5 ppg.) are the starting guards for MSU.
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