January 5, 2012 4:44:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- One thing Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury knows about his team is their much more prepared for Arkansas's full-court press court trap led by new Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson.
"I think we're more equipped to handle full-court pressure than we were last year for sure," Stansbury said. "We had one guy that could dribble the ball last year against it. That wasn't Riley or Ravern's strengths. We have other guys that you feel comfortable bringing up that basketball. When you got other options, definitely makes you better."
MSU (13-2) has won two of the last three in Bud Walton Arena and six of its last seven against the Razorbacks. The difference is Anderson's '94-feet of hell' that he has incorporated at Alabama-Birmingham and Missouri that forces the opponent to speed up the tempo that causes turnovers.
"I don't think they can press at the front of the press with Sanchez at the 4 like they want a 4 who can really move really good," Stansbury said. "They're going to try. They're going to try to speed you up and turn it over and make mistakes because they're so quick with a bunch of guards. But in the halfcourt they're going to play that 1-1-3 a bunch and stick to that basketball, keep you out of the paint and make you shoot 3s."
One of the key matchups to this Southeastern Conference opener for both teams is how MSU junior forward Arnett Moultrie (16.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg) will potentially match up with Arkansas' inexperienced and outmanned frontcourt with the loss of Marshawn Powell for the rest of the season due to injury.
"Missing Powell is bad and good for them," Stansbury said. "You take away a guy that can score and is powerful around that paint. At the same time when you take him out they play with another skill guy a lot more. The way they play they can go on rolls because they are skilled and they can put those four guards out there together and sometimes there are three point guards or guys that played point guard, guys that can pass it and shoot it."
I will have a feature in Friday's edition of the Dispatch on the undervalued nature of Moultrie's production and how that relates to MSU's program being somewhat of a underappreciated Top 15 program this year in college basketball.
"If he was at North Carolina, he would probably be a first-team All-American," MSU freshman guard Rodney Hood said Thursday.
Despite having been ranked since Nov. 21 and winning its only other "true" road game in Detroit (80-75 at University of Detroit), Stansbury still sees things that MSU can improve on that might simply be overshadowed by the fact they are winning consistently this season.
"I think there's a lot of room for improvement with this, probably a lot more than some of the other teams I've had going into this time," Stansbury said. "That's what I'm thinking - some other teams I've taken into this time of the year, you don't have that level of improvement left. You have some guys hitting on all cylinders effort wise and executing, doing those kinds of things. That's why I think there's a lot of improvement left for this team. The thing that's different about this team is we have multiple weapons, which keeps you from having to execute quite as well and still allows you to win games. If you get those guys executing and doing those things with multiple weapons, it makes you even better.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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