December 18, 2009 9:53:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State''s men''s basketball team knows there will be times it doesn''t shoot well from beyond the 3-point line.
Even though the Bulldogs enjoy shooting a Southeastern Conference-best 42 percent (104 of 248) from 3-point range, they understand it will be difficult to keep up that pace.
MSU coach Rick Stansbury knows there will be times when his team could struggle with its long-range shooting, but that doesn''t mean he''s going to keep them from trying.
"Our team is going to shoot the threes when we''ve got it," Stansbury said. "The important thing with us is time and score a little bit and the flow of the game sometimes, but a 3-point shooter has to have the freedom pretty much and not think a lot about if it''s a good shot or a bad shot."
The Bulldogs look to take its hot shooting touch on the road when it plays the University of Houston at 1 p.m. Saturday (Comcast).
MSU (8-2) tied a school-record with 16 3-pointers made in a 105-53 victory against St. Bonaventure. The Bulldogs hit 12 more in wins against DePaul (76-45) in Tampa, Fla., and against Wright State (80-69) at home Wednesday night.
"When everyone is hitting threes like we did (Wednesday night) no one can beat us," MSU junior guard Ravern Johnson said.
When the Bulldogs fall into a slump, they are glad to know there''s a man in the middle like Jarvis Varnado who''s capable of scoring.
Stansbury doesn''t want his players afraid to take 3-pointers, but he believes Varnado provides balance.
"He''s a guy we want to get touches," Stansbury said. "If that opposing team wants to take away Jarvis, we''ll shoot more 3-pointers. We do have some versatility there."
MSU''s strategy is simple.
Against DePaul game, 18 of the 25 shots MSU took in the first half were from 3-point territory because Stansbury said "that''s what DePaul was giving us by making a decision to jam the paint."
When opponents try to guard the perimeter, MSU has the opportunity to get it to Varnado.
Johnson said Stansbury has instructed the squad to look inside if shots aren''t going down.
"I think everyone will recognizes what we''ve got to do," Johnson said. "We know Jarvis is down there to clean up everything."
The Bulldogs have found balanced scoring with their starters. Johnson and Varnado each average 14.3 points per game to lead the team, followed by Barry Stewart (11.7 ppg.), Dee Bost (10.7 ppg.) and Kodi Augustus (10.1 ppg.).
When MSU travels to Houston (5-2), it will be away from home for the fifth time this season. The Bulldogs have won four of those games.
"We got some confidence against DePaul and UCLA (at Anaheim, Calif.), so we''ve been away from home and won," Stansbury said. "We feel much better about going on the road, but we know it''s not easy (at Houston)."