January 28, 2013

Important week ahead for MSU

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Last week was one that Rick Ray would like to forget.

The first year men's basketball coach at Mississippi State was outscored by 61 points in their two losses last week extending their losing streak to four games.

"I thought we had a difficult week this past week," Ray said. "We went to Arkansas and ran into a buzzsaw in those guys, who play really well at home. Then we came and played Florida here at home and I think they're arguably the best team in the SEC right now. They are probably playing better than anybody in the nation right now. It's impressive that they probably have the best talent in the SEC but are also the most unselfish team in the SEC in the way they are willing to share the basketball."

While the outcome of the game remained the same, the Bulldogs did see some individual improvments between the two games. MSU turned the ball over a season-high 29 times at Arkansas but reduced that number down to 10 against the seventh-ranked Gators.

Freshman guard Craig Sword made the single biggest improvement in that area. Sword had nine turnovers against the Razorbacks but cut them out completely in 26 minutes against Floirda.

"I think he's constantly making improvements as a basketball player," Ray said. "He comes off that nine turnover game against Arkansas and comes in against Florida and has zero turnovers. I think Craig's trying to figure out what's going on with himself within the team concept. i think Craig Sword is a very competitive kid but when we get down like we were at Arkansas, he tends to put his head down and just drives the basketball into trouble. It's not him being a bad or selfish kid, that's just his way to compete."

Leading the way in both games for the Bulldogs was freshman wing Fred Thomas. Thomas scored 17 in 24 minutes off the bench against the Hogs and added a career-high 19 points in 25 minutes Saturday against Florida.

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