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SMITH COLUMN: Bulldogs have an important week on court

March 7, 2012


This is a very important week of basketball for the Mississippi State men's basketball team.

It will go a long way in determining which postseason destination the Bulldogs find themselves participating in for March Madness, either the NCAA Tournament or the National Invitational Tournament.

When MSU meets the Georgia Bulldogs in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday night in New Orleans, La., the outcome of that game will definitely help or hurt its chances for the Big Dance.

With their play over the last week, the Bulldogs are back on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

Mississippi State was falling out of the NCAA Tournament conversation quickly, while suffering through its five-game losing streak.

Ironically, Georgia started that skid for MSU with a 70-68 victory in Starkville back on Feb. 11.

The Bulldogs from Mississippi certainly need a much improved effort to keep that same result from happening in New Orleans.

If Mississippi State loses to Georgia once again, it will be a blow and may eliminate any NCAA Tournament hopes remaining.

It appears the Bulldogs understand the magnitude of what's about to happen.

"We've got our confidence back and we feel we owe Georgia one," MSU senior point guard Dee Bost said. "They got us on our home court, and we know how important it is to get a win as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned."

Bost and teammate Arnett Moultrie were both recognized as first-team selections on the All-Southeastern Conference team on Tuesday.

Both needs to play at their best during this week's SEC Tournament and any further postseason opportunity the Bulldogs are fortunate to get.

Forgive me if there seems to be a hint of pessimism in the above statement, but there have been too many poor second-half performances out of MSU this season to be fully confident in what it can accomplish.

The Bulldogs must be focused on putting two halves together, much like they did in last Saturday's 79-59 senior day win against Arkansas.

Hopefully, they will carry some of that momentum to New Orleans.
It seems that Bost plans to take Georgia more seriously this time, but he needs to get his teammates on board with his thoughts.

Mississippi State has no choice now than to beat Georgia in order to put more pressure on the NCAA Tournament committee.
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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