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MSU's rotation issues are complexing for Rick Ray heading into SEC play

 

 

Matt Stevens

 

STARKVILLE - The transfer of Dre Applewhite has become another blow to the already thin rotation for the Mississippi State men's basketball program.  

 

MSU coach Rick Ray announced Applewhite, a redshirt freshman guard from Memphis, has decided to transfer to another school and will not participate for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.  

 

Applewhite had drawn starts in the last six games over sophomore Fred Thomas and had averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game in 12 games. No specific were given to the decision Applewhite made following the fall semester of the 2013-14 academic year.  

 

Applewhite's loss affects not only the depth at the wing but Applewhite's length allowed him to move down to the power forward position when MSU wanted to go to a four-game lineup in a up-tempo style.  

 

By taking the 75-63 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore as a example, Ray will likely use IJ Ready and Trivante Bloodman at the point, Craig Sword and Jacoby Davis at the two and then have choices at the wing. Fred Thomas is the only scholarship player left to play small forward and was back in the starting lineup but it's interesting to see if Ray will try to move Davis to the wing on occasion or try to find more minutes for walk-ons Tyson Cunningham and Tevin Moore in the upcoming 18 Southeastern Conference games.  

 

This is clearly a new role for Davis than before his knee injury when he was a late signee to MSU's program by Rick Ray.  

 

"He's exactly the type of quality person we are looking for in this basketball program," Ray said in a university release in April 2012. "I think he'll be a great addition to our team because he's a winner, and he cares about the team. Jacoby will be a valuable asset to our team because he is a true point guard that can set up his teammates, but he's also a good shooter and will take pressure off of his teammates with his ability to knock down shots." 

 

With Roquez Johnson needing to providing minutes at the center position for Gavin Ware, it's also undetermined how Ray will maneuver the forwards if foul trouble becomes a issue in what SEC coaches anticipate will be a much more disciplined officiating situation in league play. Kentucky (10-3) has attempted 85 more free throws than the second-highest SEC team this season. The Wildcats freshman power forward Julius Randle, ranked one of the top players in the incoming 2013 class, averages nine free throw attempts per game.  

 

"The things that concern you about Kentucky is the way they can draw fouls with the way they play (offense)," Ray said on the SEC media teleconference Monday morning.  

 

Without the services of Applewhite, MSU will be down to eight active scholarship players and only three possible post options for the remainder of the season including their SEC opener at No. 15 Kentucky on Wednesday (7 p.m., SEC Network). The Bulldogs are 5-45 all-time at Rupp Arena with their only win in 15 years coming in 2009.  

 

"It's different competing in practice and competing in games, especially now that we're starting SEC play. We've got a good feel of what Tyson can do and he'll always be part of the rotation," Ray said. "Now I want to see what Jacoby and Tevin can do." 

 

 

 

MSU's current rotation: 

 

 

 

GUARDS  

 

IJ Ready, Trivante Bloodman, Craig Sword, Jacoby Davis, Fred Thomas, Tyson Cunningham (walk-on), Tevin Moore (walk-on) 

 

 

 

FORWARDSr 

 

Gavin Ware, Roquez Johnson, Colin Borchert  

 

 

 

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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