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SMITH COLUMN: Value of win should not be lost with MSU

November 14, 2012


It's going to be a struggle on most nights for the Mississippi State Bulldogs to win basketball games this season.

That's why picking up a victory like Tuesday night was so important.

In their home opener at Humphrey Coliseum, the Bulldogs did enough firepower to defeat the Florida Atlantic Owls 78-58.

It remains to be seen how good the Owls of coach Mike Jarvis will be, but they didn't appear to have much talent.

There are going to be opponents on MSU's schedule that are much better and have more depth, starting with North Carolina on Nov. 19 in Hawaii.

In pre-Southeastern Conference play, the Bulldogs need to be as successful as possible. Wins are going to be hard to come by in the league.

There were some bright spots against Florida Atlantic that MSU can build from.

Sophomore Roquez Johnson returned from a concussion to cause quite a headache to the Owls. He showed some toughness and scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs.

Former Starkville High School player Gavin Ware entered the game with 17:37 remaining in the first half and was productive during his 18 minutes of playing time for MSU. There were also some teaching moments for the freshman.

After scoring 10 points for the Bulldogs on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line, coach Rick Ray was happy with what he got from Ware.

Ware didn't shy away from contact and looked more in shape than he did during his high school days.
"He's not afraid to use his body," Ray said. "He wants to stay in the post and continue to attack. It's obvious he's got some good coaching from (Greg) Carter (at SHS). He knows the angles and how to execute. That's half the battle."

It's going to be a learning experience for Ware and the other young MSU players.

There were some good stretches for Fred Thomas, Craig Sword and Trivante Bloodman, but it's not always going to be as easy as it was against Florida Atlantic.

There are going to be some stretches where the Bulldogs are not going to play well. They just have to weather those storms when they happen.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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