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MSU men's basketball resumes homestand with Texas A&M


Matthew Stevens


STARKVILLE - Any time a player goes for 40 points in Rupp Arena on the opening weekend of 


Southeastern Conference, that person must obviously be accounted for. 


Welcome to the Mississippi State University men's basketball gameplan for Texas A&M University 


guard Elston Turner as the Aggies make their first ever trip to Starkville tonight (8 p.m., CSS). 


"We got to figure out a way to limit his touches and treat him like we did Pope (on Georgia), we have 


to be Turner conscious," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. 


Turner, a 6-foot-5 guard who is sixth in the SEC averaging 15.7 points per game, is a projected 


National Basketball Association draft pick due to his strengths to score from several different spots on 


the floor. 


"I just think the different ways he scores makes him dangerous," Ray said. "He hit deep threes, mid- 


range jumpers, post-up opportunities and got to the rim. When you're playing a guy like that that is 


scoring at all levels because he's not a big-time athlete but he is a big body so you can't disrupt him 


much physically." 


Teams focusing on Turner in their matchup with the Aggies (12-6, 2-4) is not a new concept for Turner 


but the guard has only been held under double figures twice this season but is averaging just 10.5 


points per game and shooting just 29 percent from the field since posting the career-high 40 points at 


the University of Kentucky on Jan. 12. 


"When you score 40 points at Kentucky and we win, it gets the attention of not only the coaches but 


it gets the attention of the players," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "I think teams have done 


a really good job of doubling him when he comes off a ball screen and showing great support on him 


when he comes off down screens. You've got to get people to turn their head to look at somebody else 


every once in a while and we're not having enough of those possessions." 


The responsibility of guarding Turner may fall to MSU freshman guard Fred Thomas because his 


length could negatively affect the space the Aggies guard needs to get into a rhythm. The issue there is 


after a career-high 19-point, seven-steal performance in a 82-47 loss against the University of Florida, 


Thomas has taken the lead for Mississippi State in the scoring column with an average of 11.1 points 


per outing. So there's concerned with players expending so much energy on defense and not being able 


to provide that quick first step or get the height on a jump shot without an extended bench depth at 




"It's a catch-22 because we're offensively challenged, when you push the basketball it gives other guys 


an opportunity to get easy baskets," Ray said. "Maybe we'll give them 


that freedom back against A&M and LSU because I want our guys to play with that freedom but we 


have to make good decision when we do it." 


Tonight's meeting will be only the fourth all-time between the schools and the first as Southeastern 


Conference foes. MSU currently leads the series 2-1 after a 69-60 victory last season in New York at 


the 2K Sports Classic. Texas A&M's lone win came in 1964. 


Following Wednesday's showdown, Mississippi State closes out a three-game home stand on Saturday 


as Louisiana State University visits Humphrey Coliseum (4:30, Fox Sports South). 


"These are two winnable games like our coach said but I think in the beginning, we become too 


relaxed because we're Mississippi State and we think we'll win the game," MSU freshman center Gavin 


Ware said. "Then we we get into the big hole, and we just keep grinding out the rest of the game."



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