February 20, 2012

Stansbury talking Kentucky

Three consecutive losses have dropped Mississippi State out of the top 25 and causing quite an uproar among its fan base.

Rick Stansbury and the Bulldogs have an excellent opportunity to put all that in the past if they can upset top-ranked Kentucky in Starkville Tuesday night.

MSU has dropped three straight games for the first time in six years losing to Georgia and LSU in overtime and most recently Auburn on the road Saturday.

"It's very obvious you come into those games to win them," Stansbury said. "Whether you get drubbed or not they still go down as a 'W' or an 'L'. It doesn't say an 'L but not drubbed'. It says a 'W' or an 'L'. That's where that is. We lost two of those games in overtime and didn't have (Renardo) Sidney against Auburn. You're not coming into this game where you'd like to but all that's done and over. The only thing you can focus on is that next game. That's what challenges you as a team to not let what you've done, whether it's been good or bad, cost you that next game."

Naturally Stansbury and the Bulldogs have been disappointed with their play of late but will try to block out those distractions and get ready to face a team that has become a rival for them on the hardwood.

"Against Kentucky, you can have probably the best mindset in the world and it's still a very difficult challenge," Stansbury said. "I've seen a lot of Kentucky team and this may be as good as I've seen. It's amazing how some of them don't get talked about enough how good they are defensively. I think that kind of separates them. Offensively they have lots of pieces but defensively is what gives you that opportunity to go on that road and win. They have an opportunity to do something that not many teams have done in a long time and that's go undefeated in this league."

The two teams have split the last six games and two of the last three have taken overtime to decide the winner. The last seven games have been decided by nine points or less with the margin of victory being just 4.9 points.

"When you're playing Kentucky you've got to be hitting on all cylinders," Stansbury said. "You've got to be able to do some things maybe better than you are capable of doing and for darn sure better than you've done them to have any kind of chance and then hope Kentucky doesn't play their best. If Kentucky plays their best I'm not sure there is anyone or anywhere that has a chance against them."

A win over the Wildcats would not only get State national notoriety but also keep them alive at the top of the seeding for the SEC Tournament in New Orleans. The Bulldogs are currently 6-6 log-jammed in a fourth place tie along with Alabama, LSU and Tennessee.

"Kentucky, Florida and Vandy are the three teams that have kind of separated themselves from everybody else," Stansbury said. "After that there are six or seven teams right there that are close. There are two weeks left and a lot of those teams are playing each other. There will be a lot of shuffling going on here. It won't be decided until that last game next Saturday. That last game will decide exactly where everybody is at."

Junior forward Renardo Sidney sat out of the Auburn game Saturday after being scratched from the lineup with back spasms. Mississippi State certainly could have used Sidney's 10.4 points per game as they fell 65-55 to the Tigers.

Stansbury said on the SEC coaches teleconference that his star power forward is day-to-day heading into Tuesday.

"It's day-to-day with him," Stansbury said. "He wasn't able to do much yesterday at all. I'll probably know at game time. That's kind of where it'll be right now. We'll see what he's able to do."

Having Sidney against Kentucky would give the Bulldogs a 6-foot-10, 285-pounder to counter their star freshman Anthony Davis.

"I think it's very obvious we need his big body out there, especially with our lack of depth," Stansbury said. "We missed him over there Saturday just giving us another guy you can throw it to at the block and score. We need that depth defensively in there body-wise. It's very obvious against a Kentucky team as talented as they are you need everybody that you can possibly get. We don't just need his body but we need his body to play well for us to have any kind of chance at all."

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