January 12, 2011 4:02:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Heading into Oxford for a pivotal in-state matchup against Ole Miss, Mississippi State players know their mid-season rebuilding plan will get much tougher if they lose tomorrow night.
MSU (8-7, 0-1) can ill-afford falling into a 0-2 hole to start league play, especially with games against No. 24 Georgia, Vanderbilt and Florida to close the January slate.
MSU''s lackluster showing in a 75-57 loss to Alabama raised concern MSU could be heading for rough roads.
The Bulldogs were outscored in the paint by 20 points and were handled in the second half after trailing by one heading into the break.
"All last week it was positive," point guard Dee Bost said Wednesday. "We had a good practice, and then for some reason we went into the game and it just changed, everything just changed."
MSU plays at Ole Miss at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The Rebels (12-4, 0-1) are looking to avoid two straight losses in the league, though they''ve won four of their last five games and played Florida close in a 77-70 loss.
Bost and forward Renardo Sindey are still searching for form and fitness after respective idle spells due to various suspensions.
Sidney, despite scoring just two points against Alabama, has shown the ability to score with 19 and 12-point games this season.
Guard Riley Benock said Sidney has been trouble-free in practice and working hard.
Benock also added Sidney''s personality has provided an extra boost to a team looking to forget its four losses over the Christmas break.
"Sid''s really a jokester, and that''s kind of what we need to some point to kind of relieve a little tension," Benock said. "It''s always good to have some laughs here and there, but at the same to be able to work hard."
Even thought they feel the pressure mounting to get a result, the Bulldogs feel the pieces they have will eventually come together.
"We''re not to the point where we don''t think we can do it," MSU guard Riley Benock said. "We have the talent and the pieces. We''re just concentrating on putting that all together."
--- Bost hoping for more magic in Oxford
Dee Bost remembers Oxford well.
Last season, he exploded for 25 points and six assists, leading MSU to an 80-75 win on opening day of SEC play.
He hopes the comfort and he feels and the experience playing in the Tad Smith Coliseum will help in having a better performance.
"Just knowing that the past two years we went in there and we won, so just take that in there, and me as a player just do everything I can to try to change this around," Bost said.
Despite the modest statistical night against Alabama, Bost''s biggest hurdle was just being back on the court.
He shot 5 of 16 and went 3 of 9 from the floor, struggling to regain is legs after a long layoff.
"I know after the game they felt, they were horrible, but I think I''ll be closer up to speed tomorrow night just because I''ve got one game under my belt, and I know how it feels," Bost said.
Bost will face Ole Miss guard and leading scorer Chris Warren, who was held in check in two matches against MSU last season.
Warren was 5 of 17 from floor for 15 points and four assists in the Oxford matchup and 1 of 9 for three points and two assists in Starkville
Warren enters tomorrow''s game averaging 18.6 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Benock hopes Bost, who was named captain this week, is doubly motivated by facing Warren.
"Dee''s just a competitor, and I think he sees Chris Warren as another guy that''s very capable of playing at the highest level," Benock said. ,"And that always gets Dee just flowing. We need him to be that competitor. We need him to start us off the right way. Hopefully, he''ll settled down a little more with the second game here.
He always does in the bigger games, and I expect it Thursday."
1. Pickle takes over as New Hope football coach HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. MSU men hit unlucky 13 for second year in a row COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Close games have helped New Hope girls find focus HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Shaw has too much for West Lowndes HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS