No. 24 MSU men look for first conference win against Florida

 

Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters (2) will help lead the No. 24 Bulldogs tonight against Florida

Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters (2) will help lead the No. 24 Bulldogs tonight against Florida Photo by: Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

 

Scott Walters

 

 

STARKVILLE -- While recent times have been tough for the Mississippi State men's basketball team, players and coaches alike think the best is yet to come. 

 

"We know that we're in a better place than we were last year," MSU junior guard Lamar Peters said. "We're a better team right now. That just comes with the game -- you take a few losses. It's all about how you bounce back. You don't let it overwhelm you. The guys in the locker room still have their confidence and coach [Ben Howland] never lost his confidence, either. It's all about how you prepare and just go forward." 

 

After being ranked No. 14 nationally a week ago, the now No. 24 Bulldogs look for their first Southeastern Conference victory against Florida at 6 tonight at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

A week ago, the Bulldogs were riding high as conference play began with a nine-game overall win streak. 

 

Those good times are a distant memory after an 87-82 overtime loss at South Carolina and an 81-77 home loss to Ole Miss. 

 

Still fighting to make the NCAA tournament for the first time this decade, the Bulldogs are reeling after losing twice against underdog opponents. 

 

"We're just moving on to the next game," MSU senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon said. "We have 16 more (league games) so -- just have to bounce back and we're get our confidence back and get our first win in the SEC." 

 

MSU (12-3, 0-2) will be trying to reverse this season's fortunes, as well as recent misfortune in this series. 

 

Florida (9-6, 1-2) has won eight straight meetings in the series. The Gators have lost twice at home -- to South Carolina (71-69) and Tennessee (78-67). The lone conference win was at Arkansas (57-51). 

 

"They're really good defensively," Howland said. They're a team, in terms of defensive efficiency, is in the top 10 in a lot of different areas. They'll show a 1-2-2 press every time they score and go back to their man-to-man matching up with anybody. They're not matching up with a specific position. They're matching up with the players in their own area. They do some different things that you don't see a lot from other teams, which you are pointing out." 

 

The Bulldogs last lost three straight to start conference play in 2016. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott

 

Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.

 

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