SMITH COLUMN: MSU must fight to be successful
The Mississippi State Bulldogs can play basketball with any team in the country.
That is if the Bulldogs play and fight hard.
MSU has shown signs this season of being a pretty good squad.
The Bulldogs had a glimpse of that fight on Saturday against the 18th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
Even though MSU made mistakes that really hurt at times, it had another ranked opponent on the ropes. The Bulldogs ended up losing a 69-59 decision to the Wildcats at Humphrey Coliseum.
Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray was not satisfied because of the loss, but he was pleased with the effort of his players.
It's something Ray wants to see more out of them as the season progresses down the stretch.
"We've got to find ways to keep playing with a competitive spirit and not let too many opportunities slip away," Ray said.
The Bulldogs were short one player as guard I.J. Ready came down with flu-like symptoms and was running a fever before the game. That meant that MSU was back down to seven scholarship players available.
With that adversity, the Bulldogs could have felt sorry for themselves. It didn't happen.
MSU led Kentucky 17-13 with 9:33 remaining in the first half and the Wildcats had trouble pulling away all afternoon. The biggest lead for Kentucky was 12 points in the second half.
Even though there were areas where he didn't think his Wildcats played well, head coach John Calipari didn't want to take anything away from the Bulldogs and what they did.
"Don't act like we just played bad and won by 10," Calipari said. "We fought to win that game."
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