The Mississippi State Bulldogs have struggled out of the gate in most of their basketball games away from Humphrey Coliseum this year
The good thing for coach Rick Ray and his team, it returns to Starkville tonight for a non-conference matchup.
Mississippi State (2-5) hosts the University of Texas-San Antonio (3-4) at 7 p.m.
"(We do) not necessarily (need) a quick start, but just a start where you don't put yourself in a hole," Ray said.
The Bulldogs trailed Providence 59-33 with 10:54 remaining in the game on Saturday. The Bulldogs closed in on the lead and trailed 68-63 with 46 seconds left.
The Friars were clutch down the stretch hitting five free throws to close out a 73-63 win.
"Obviously, the hole ended up being insurmountable," Ray said. "That is the one thing we have to do, we have to give ourself a chance to win ballgames. With the way we started off the game and the way we competed in the first half, we don't give ourselves a chance to win the game.
"I'm not happy. I know a lot of people were patting us on the back about the way we came back and competed in the second half. I'm not satisfied with that. It's great (that) our guys came back and played hard, but we have to do better in the first half and not put ourselves in those situations."
Although the Bulldogs are winless on the road this season, they have been a different team at home.
MSU is 2-0 in the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum this year. The Bulldogs beat Florida Atlantic 78-58 on Nov. 13 and Alcorn State 60-42 on Nov. 27.
Senior forward Wendell Lewis led the Bulldogs with a career-high 16 points. He also pulled down 11 rebounds for the double-double.
"I'm glad Wendell had a good game," Ray said. "He is capable of outputs like that. He has got the athleticism. He has the body. He just now needs to have the mentality to go out and compete everyday."
Lewis has not started the last two games. Against Providence, it didn't seem to bother him.
"I wasn't concerned about starting," Lewis said. "I really don't care about starting."
Lewis is the only senior on the team and has kind of been thrust into a leadership role. However, Ray doesn't automatically see Lewis as a leader just because of his classification.
"Just because you're a senior doesn't mean you're a leader," Ray said. "It doesn't happen that way. Wendell doesn't have a lot of personal experience to draw from."
The Roadrunners have lost three in a row. They are coming off an 85-52 loss to Cal State Bakersfield.
They are led by senior guard Kannon Burrage. He has scored an average of 17.9 points per game this season and is pulling down just under five rebounds a contest.
"They are a ball-screening offense," Ray said. "They have a really skilled kid at the four spot that can make some things happen. They want to spread you out, get some dribble penetration and try to get some situations where those guys can catch and shoot on the perimeter."