By DANNY P. SMITH
How good can this Mississippi State basketball team be?
There were times, during Saturday afternoon's 71-64 upset against the 24th-ranked Florida Gators, where the Bulldogs were very good.
Even though there were still possessions where he was a little lax, MSU sophomore center forward Renardo Sidney was more active in the post. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Junior point guard Dee Bost of the Bulldogs was hitting three-point field goals and driving to the basket for scores. He ended the game with 24 points.
Bost and Sidney can be a dynamic duo that can lead MSU to the postseason, but the key from this point is to build on what its done and continue to progress.
The Bulldogs can't go backward and Bost doesn't plan on it.
"We've just got to play hard and get better," Bost said, "This was a start."
There was not a better time to get a huge Southeastern Conference victory than in front of a national television audience courtesy of CBS.
The MSU fans left Humphrey Coliseum Saturday in a much better mood than they did after Thursday night's 81-74 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Unlike that night, the Bulldogs made the plays they had to make to pull off the victory.
With several visitors in the house, including World Series participant Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers and Congressman Allan Nunnelee, the Bulldogs went out and took care of business.
"The things that hurt us the other night didn't hurt us in this game," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "We had some missed block outs and some turnovers against Vandy, but we only had one missed block out (against Florida)."
The tone seemed to be set at halftime when the football team was presented with the Gator Bowl Trophy, then the basketball squad seem to feed off the energy of the crowd in the second half.
Bost realized that on several occasions and became State's number one cheerleader on top of being one of the top point guards in the SEC.
The one primary stat of concern is the Bulldogs didn't get any point-production outside of the top four starters. Along with Bost and Sidney, Kodi Augustus had 16 points and Ravern Johnson added 15 points. Other than that, nothing.
Stansbury knows he'll need more production from the bench as MSU's season progresses.
For now, he'll take the fight and battle from the Bulldogs.
"Right now, we're just trying to scratch, trying to hide some things and do other things the best we can," Stansbury said.
The next opportunity will be a Wednesday night road encounter against Alabama, a team that handed MSU a 75-57 loss at Humphrey Coliseum on Jan. 8.
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.