January 18, 2012 11:01:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Rick Stansbury simply can't care that the next opponent is Ole Miss. He can't focus on the fact that he's 20-7 against the Rebels in his head coaching career. He and the Bulldogs team simply see the road game at Tad Smith Coliseum (8 p.m., CSS) as the next opponent and a league road win that is needed to compete for a potential Southeastern Conference championship.
"We don't try to do a lot of gimmicks or use things differently," Stansbury said. "We try to stay pretty consistent. This is the next opportunity and it is the biggest game of the year because why? Because it is the next one. They are undefeated. Nobody has beaten them at home. They are a very good team."
In the last two seasons, the Bulldogs have not only successfully retained momentum in the rivalry game but also made sure to leave the Rebels program in a state of disarray and unable to recover in the following weeks.
"I don't have to point those things out," Stansbury said. "Players understand you've got to go on the road somewhere and try to win some games. And y'all have heard me say this a thousand times, everybody's good at home. Teams that win championships are teams that can go on
the road and win."
Two years ago, Ole Miss welcomed their interstate rival into Tad Smith Coliseum as the 16th-ranked team in the country and a 80-75 loss would send them into a tailspin that would see them lose five of six Southeastern Conference games and miss out on the NCAA Tournament
Last year a 69-64 loss to the Bulldogs was part of losing five of its first six league games and the result was again without an invite to the big tournament in March.
"You guys (in the media) think about it more than I do, trust me," Stansbury said. "It's two games a year. You play 30 games. It's two games. It does not count as two W's or two L's. There are a lot of other games that count the same that you have to get your team prepared for."
What Stansbury is focusing on is another physical battle after going through a pair of home games against Tennessee and Alabama that were won in the paint.
"We have to turn around and go play Vanderbilt with Ezelli," Stansbury said. "Then turn right back around at home and play LSU with two big ol' bruisers on the inside. It is a very difficult stretch and no question we just played two really physical teams and going on the road at Ole Miss wont be any different, big athletic and physical on that inside."
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.
2. They Were All Very Merry at Pfaff's BOOK REVIEWS