January 28, 2012 6:04:00 PM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- What we learned?
Mississippi State has no depth and opponents are simply going to exploit that weakness drastically over the next two months of the season. 14th-ranked Florida did that exact thing in a convincing 69-57.
The hot shooting of the Gators (17-4, 5-1 in Southeastern Conference) that had paced them throughout the 2011-12 season was a constant again as Florida knocked down 11 shots from beyond the three-point arc from five different players.
Arnett Moultrie, the Bulldogs John Wooden Award finalist, fouled out of the contest with just over two minutes left and while the junior forward got his SEC-leading 13th double-double (12 points and 13 rebounds) of the season, he struggled a 4-for-10 shooting night with just two rebounds on the offensive end.
MSU (17-5, 4-3) has not defeated a team ranked in the current Associated Press Top 25 rankings with losses to Baylor and Saturday to the Gators. The Bulldogs are now 5-4 against the top 100 teams in the latest Ratings Percentage Index.
The problem that crept up for MSU was again a depth at key positions as Bulldogs point guard Dee Bost had Florida defenders Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario on him throughout the afternoon. By the middle of the second half, Bost's 39 minutes of action proved to be detrimental to his team's ability to get just four baskets in final eight minutes.
Florida junior forward Erik Murphy's ability to bring MSU's Wooden Award finalist more than 20 feet away from the basket was a major key to frustrating the Bulldogs 6-foot-11 star.
Murphy began the Gators 69-57 victory by hitting two long-range jump shots. A tentative Moultrie, who leads the league in rebounding, seemed to question whether he should leave premier low-post position to challenge the Gators 6-foot-10 forward from beyond the three-point arc.
MSU now has a week to prepare for they take the floor again as they open a three-game homestand with a 3 p.m. start against Auburn Saturday.
What we heard?
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury:
"It's choose your poison against Florida. They had 11 (three-pointers) in the game - it seemed like 21. They're so good in those other areas, too. So good off that bounce."
Florida coach Billy Donovan:
"(The tempo) was key in the game for me because Bost gets 16 (points) per game and the one thing that nobody talks about is his ability to find open guys and make the game easier for everybody else."
Mississippi State freshman guard Rodney Hood:
"We knew they were capable of that. They're shooters from every position. Then they'll catch you slipping and Patric Young will roll in with a dunk on you."
Florida freshman guard Brad Beal:
"I just can't get down on myself and think that just because they can just take advantage of me," Beal said. "You just have to play hard and smart."
What's next?: vs. Auburn (12-8, 2-4), 3 p.m., Feb. 4
The Tigers have simply had a problem putting the ball through the hoop. Auburn is 246th in the country is scoring and have failed to top the 60-point threshold in each of their last five losses. Head coach Tony Barbee has watched his team lose five of six away from home for the year.In SEC play, Auburn is last in scoring (55.2 ppg), but second in the league in rebounding (37.3 rpg).
Point guard Frankie Sullivan leads the Tigers in scoring with 12.4 ppg, while forward Kenny Gabriel is netting 11.6 ppg and a team-high 8.0 rpg. Sullivan has averaged 17.5 ppg and knocked down 13 three-pointers in his last four outings. Gabriel contributed 13 points and eight rebounds in the team's loss to Arkansas on Wednesday. Chris Denson provided a spark off the bench in Auburn's last outing as he went 4-of-6 to provide 10 points.
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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