January 16, 2012 2:47:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State men's basketball program is in a much better state of mind after getting two home wins this past week over Tennessee and Alabama. The Bulldogs program, ranked 15th in the latest USA Today Coaches' poll and 18th in the Associated Press poll, received some positive news Monday morning as junior forward Arnett Moultrie was named Southeastern Conference player of the week after averaging 19 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last week. In leading the Bulldogs to the two wins, Moultrie hit 72.7 percent of his shots, while draining a career-best 10 field goals against Alabama and blocking a career-best four shots against Tennessee. He had 25 points while also hauling in 13 rebounds against the Crimson Tide to give him an SEC-best tying (with Kentucky center Anthony Davis) nine double-doubles.
"He brings a consistent rebounder for us - number one," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said Monday morning. "He's going to get you 10 (rebounds) a night. Offensively he's gotten better for us and puts a little pressure around that rim."
Stansbury talked during the Southeastern Conference media teleconference about how he feels like MSU (15-3, 2-1 in SEC play) has the power to match up with teams in a halfcourt physical game.
"We have the abilities and bodies to be able to match up that way, too," Stansbury said. "We like to do the same thing ourselves a little bit."
I'll have more on Moultrie's development and the physical frontcourt of MSU in Tuesday's edition of The Dispatch.
Currently, ESPN.com analyst Joe Lunardi has MSU as a 7-seed against Temple in Omaha, Neb. in his latest projected bracket released this morning - http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology -
Despite a 20-7 record all-time as a head coach against Ole Miss, Stansbury maintained his normal consistent talk about the rivalry and not overemphasizing it too much to his players as compared to the other 14 SEC games on the slate. MSU will look to continue its success against the Rebels when they travel to Oxford Wednesday for a 8 p.m. tip on CSS.
"Those other 27 games have nothing to do with this one," Stansbury, who has won each of the last two seasons in Tad Smith Coliseum. "They're all different. Each of us have a different team each year, and they're all just different. You try to stay consistent the way you prepare through 16 (SEC) games. Naturally, it's human nature, the kids understand, the kids read the paper or your blogs or whatever. They probably don't read no paper, but read your blog on those telephones. They understand it's your in-state rival."
Ole Miss (11-6, 1-2) has simply had trouble finding offensive consistency but could have a go-to scorer in junior guard Nick Williams after the transfer from Indiana was able to get a double figure scoring effort against both Arkansas and Auburn.
"We've got to get him to step up and make plays for us, give us leadership, give us consistency." Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We thought he was really good at home against Arkansas. He was aggressive against Auburn - not quite as effective as we needed him to be in order to win on the road. But he's a kid that I know every day he's going to show up and give an honest day's work with a great attitude."
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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