January 20, 2017 10:34:34 AM
STARKVILLE -- It hasn't been easy for Southeastern Conference men's basketball teams after playing Kentucky.
The No. 5 Wildcats are 6-0 in conference play and are on a six-game winning streak. Kentucky has beaten Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Mississippi State. Auburn, which beat LSU 78-74 at home Wednesday night, is the only team to win its next game after playing Kentucky.
MSU (12-5, 3-2 SEC) lost 88-81 to Kentucky on Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum. It will look to put the loss behind it at 5 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) when it plays Tennessee (9-9, 2-4) at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.
"We learn from our past and try to form the positives and negatives," MSU coach Ben Howland said Thursday. "The biggest thing is coming back with great focus and energy for another road game against a hard team to matchup with because of how they play."
The Volunteers have lost four of their last five. The only win was an 87-75 victory against Vanderbilt, which was coming off a loss to Kentucky.
Howland watched the film of the game against Kentucky and was disappointed with his team's 19 turnovers. He said some were forced by the Wildcats.
While not pleased with the turnovers, Howland was impressed with his team's fight.
"Just the never-quit, never-die and never-give-up attitude," Howland said of the positives he took from the loss. "That's always huge. We did a good job competing and trying hard. We just have to channel it better and get ourselves more poised and with more composure."
Freshman point guard Lamar Peters, who had a career-high 25 points, had a team-high five turnovers. Sophomore forward Aric Holman had two turnovers.
"It's all about making quick turnarounds in small areas. Adjustments are a real thing," Holman said. "It's going to be a tough matchup. As long as we do the things, I know we can do we will be all right."
Sophomore guard/forward Quinndary Weatherspoon leads MSU with 17.7 points per game. Peters is averaging 11.3 ppg., but he leads the Bulldogs with 15.4 ppg. in conference games. Holman is averaging 10 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Robert Hubbs (14.4 ppg.) leads Tennessee. Freshman forward Grant Williams is averaging 10.5 ppg. Detrick Mostella was averaging 10.5 ppg., but he was dismissed for a violation of team rules earlier this month.
"A lot of times they're going to play a four (power forward) at the five (center), a three (small forward) at the four and three guards," Howland said. "They're very aggressive (and) a good rebounding team. ... Their point guard is really fast. They're a problem."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.
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