January 18, 2012 1:54:00 PM
OXFORD -- No. 18 Mississippi State (15-3, 2-1) at Ole Miss (11-6, 1-2), 8 p.m., Site: Tad Smith Coliseum; TV: CSS
Current Line: Mississippi State by 2
Since we're a few hours away from tipoff let's count down the early subplots of tonight's contest before The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog arrives.
- Can MSU's frontline dominate scrappy Rebels frontcourt?
After going through two physical battles in home victories against Tennessee and Alabama, MSU is likely to see a similar pace to Ole Miss as the Rebels are having trouble simply had trouble finding offensive consistency and a go-to scorer when the shot clock is winding down.
Therefore, the only way to get an upset victory over the Bulldogs would be to win the battle down low with their athletic and experienced forwards.
The veterans and showcase pieces of MSU's rotation feel like that style is playing right into what they wish to accomplish.
"It'll be a physical game (but) our bigs always prevail and I feel like they're going to come out on top," MSU senior point guard Dee Bost said.
One of the reason Bost can be so confident in his viewpoint is the overall dominance of junior forward Arnett Moultrie, who was named one of 25 finalists for the Wooden Award on Tuesday.
"(The attention) has happened really quick but it shows all the hard work is starting to pay off and show," Moultrie said. "I'm real comfortable and embracing the moment while trying to stay humble."
Moultrie, who tabbed the SEC player of the week on Monday, is also tops in rebounding (10.9), while his nine double-doubles are tied for the most and will be facing two of the top five rebounders in the SEC on the Rebels frontcourt.
"It's going to be another physical game because of Buckner and Holloway really hit the rebounds really hard," Moultrie said. "Me and Sid have to come in and make it a point to box out and make sure they don't dominate it.
- Can MSU keep the streak going in against the Rebels in Oxford?
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.
Can Dee Bost continue success vs. Ole Miss?
Dee Bost has played a vital role in keeping Mississippi State headed in the right direction. He also played a big part during his team's most recent visit to rival Mississippi.
Bost will try to lead the 18th-ranked Bulldogs to a sixth consecutive win over the Rebels and their first four-game win streak in Oxford in nearly a century Wednesday night.
"I guess because everybody takes it personal if we lose to them," Bost said Tuesday. "If we lose to them, we're going to hear for a long time. I just seem to play my best up there you know. For some reason, I tend to attack the basket than settling for jump shots."
Bost's heroics have kept them from suffering any more defeats. His steal and dunk against Tennessee on Thursday helped Mississippi State prevail 62-58 Thursday, and he hit three 3-pointers in the final 4:23 of a 56-52 win against Alabama on Saturday.
Bost had a team-25 points, eight assists and six rebounds during a 69-64 win last January at Ole Miss, including two free throws with 2:38 left that gave his team the lead for good.
He had nine assists during a 71-58 home victory over the Rebels on Feb. 19, but was held to a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting. Bost had scored in double figures in each of the previous five matchups, averaging 17.4 points over those games.
"You can lose three games in a row but if you lose to Ole Miss - that game probably means more to our fans and our school. Playing Ole Miss, you always have to come to play because everybody is watching."
- Scouting Ole Miss
The Rebels have had the majority of their success at the defensive end of the floor, limiting the opposition to 63.9 ppg and just under 40 percent shooting (.394). The reason this is critical is because the offense has been simply nonexistent and the Rebels do not have a consistent go-to scorer. Ole Miss comes into this contest averaging just 66.0 ppg and Rebels coach Andy Kennedy has said his team "has trouble getting to 50 points" in certain matchups. Jarvis Summers leads the team with 10.8 ppg. Terrance Henry and Murphy Holloway are right behind with 10.7 and 10.6 ppg, respectively. The 6-foot-7 Holloway is converting 56.4 percent of his shots and leads the Rebels with 10.0 rpg. Nick Williams came off the bench to tally 13 points. Holloway (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Reginald Buckner (11 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double- doubles in the double-overtime loss at Auburn.
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.
4. America and the Muslims BOOK REVIEWS