March 1, 2010

Stansbury, Bulldogs on the bubble

Mississippi State is considered by many experts to be one of the last few teams to make the field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs have two regular season games remaining as well as a conference tournament. But securing at least a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division should help aid their cause.

"Our kids can take some pressure off by knowing they've already won a championship," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "They don't have that added pressure on them but there is a lot more laying out there for us to get. Those are things you build within yourself with added incentives."

Their 76-63 win over South Carolina on the road this past Saturday also secured the Bulldogs a top seed in the SEC Tournament and a first round bye. State had to battle through four games in four days last March in Tampa to claim the tournament championship but Stansbury feels one less game will help because of his squad's depth issues.

"I think it's a pretty big deal and I think most coaches would tell you that," Stansbury said. "You would rather play three games than four games for sure in particular with this team and our lack of depth. There is no question that last year's team was just a little bit different because I played 10 guys down that stretch because they would buy us some more minutes. This team it would be more of a challenge."

Stansbury did not sub any during the second half against the Gamecocks keeping all five starters in the final 20 minutes. Junior power forward Kodi Augustus benefitted from the extra time on the floor scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes.

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