Smith on Sports: MSU has tough 0-2 SEC start

Danny P. Smith

Sports Editor

Two tough losses to begin the Southeastern Conference schedule can be a devastating blow to a team.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are looking to handle the situation in a positive manner.

After an 81-77 loss to the rival Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum, the Bulldogs are left picking up the pieces after another disappointing outcome.

MSU dropped an 87-82 overtime decision at South Carolina last Tuesday and knew the game against Ole Miss was huge to keep from falling to 0-2 in the league.

Now that the Bulldogs are in that hole, it’s how they respond that’s going to matter.

MSU freshman forward Reggie Perry said they have no choice than to keep plugging away.

“We’ve got to continue to stay focused, practice hard, play hard and take every possession serious,” Perry said.

Even though it hurts greatly, the Bulldogs don’t have long to dwell on the one that got away against the Rebels. The Florida Gators come into the Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday and I guarantee they are not going to be feeling sorry for MSU.

There are 18 games total on the SEC slate before the tournament in March so the Bulldogs have 16 more opportunities to get up off the mat and show some fight.

The worst thing MSU can do is stay down and let a two-game losing streak become three, four, five or even longer.

Men’s basketball in the Southeastern Conference can be unforgiving and can chew up a team and spit it out if it doesn’t get things under control.

There are two areas the Bulldogs must address if they are going to get back to the success they had in the non-conference.

First MSU must play better defense. Ole Miss took too many wide open shots and the Bulldogs are still trying to find Blake Hinson at 3-point range.

Also, MSU needs to take care of the basketball better. The total of 15 turnovers on Saturday is not horrible, but with the intensity of the games in the SEC, it can't afford to make very many miscues.

The only way to get those out of their system is go back to work as Perry suggests. There’s quite a bit of basketball left to be played and the Bulldogs need to attack it with full force.

Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis Jr., who was able to win his first game in the rivalry, was complimentary of his alma mater and believes MSU will be fine.

“They should be 2-0," Davis Jr. said. "They lost to a good South Carolina team on the road and could have won (Saturday),” Davis said. “They’re going to win a bunch of games. Their team is too good and Ben is too good of a coach.”

The Bulldogs have to hope the Rebel coach is right.

Danny P. Smith is the 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 SDN or its staff.