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MSU men have sights set beyond SECs


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State men''s basketball team is making plans for a postseason beyond the Southeastern Conference tournament for the ninth time in 11 seasons under coach Rick Stansbury. 


The Bulldogs remain uncertain about their postseason destination. Can they still do enough to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament, will they have to settle for the NIT, or will they accept an invitation to College Basketball Invitational or the first-year Postseason Tournament. 


The Bulldogs still believe they can make the NCAA tournament, but they won''t realize that opportunity without a deep run in the SEC tournament. 


After finishing third in the SEC Western Division, Stansbury believes his team might have overachieved this season, but he knows more could be obtained. 


"When you break it all down and see where this team is, we''re 9-7 (in the SEC), 5-1 against the East with four road wins, and two double overtime losses," Stansbury said. "We all wanted more, could have had more, but if you tell me we''d be here at the beginning of the season, we''d have taken it. 


"We had opportunities to get more, and still have opportunities to get more. That''s what we''re playing for. You still have life. We intend to go after more." 


The Bulldogs (19-12) start their quest at 2:15 p.m. Thursday against Georgia, the defending SEC tournament champions. 


What will it take for MSU to have success in the tournament? 


MSU sophomore guard Phil Turner said the players need to take care of themselves physically. He said the Bulldogs have played better lately when they get to bed at an earlier hour (10 or 11 p.m. instead of midnight or 1 a.m.) and eat better. 


"What you could get away with in October and November, you can''t get away with the same thing (at tournament time)," Turner said. "I''m guilty because I can go the whole day without eating and the next day I''m just sluggish." 


Turner said MSU will need strong contributions from its bench if it is to win games on consecutive days. 


Riley Benock, Kodi Augustus, Romero Osby, and Twany Beckham will be counted on to keep up their strong work. 


MSU''s bench has outscored its counterparts 53-35 in the past two games. 


Turner said the effectiveness of the bench players doesn''t always show up on paper. 


"It''s not the always the numbers but the execution of things," Turner said. "That all plays a part. I''m excited with the way we''ve played and the energy."



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