February 16, 2009

Stansbury talking South Carolina Gamecocks

Mississippi State found out how good South Carolina was last year when the Gamecocks took them to overtime in Columbia.

The Bulldogs ended up with a 61-56 win but MSU head coach Rick Stansbury feels like South Carolina has improved and is playing as good as anyone in the Southeastern Conference right now.

"They are a much better team than they were last year," Stansbury said. "They have more pieces and they have more parts. Last year we went up there and zoned them a bunch. They just weren't as big and physical and didn't shoot the ball very well as a team. This year is totally different. They are probably one of the best 3-point shooting teams in this league. Now when you have to try and keep a guy out of the lane and at the same time when there are 3-point shooters out there it makes it tough. South Carolina is as good as anybody in this league."

A large part of the Gamecock's success comes from junior point guard Devin Downey. While undersized at 5-foot-9, 175-pounds, Downey is averaging 19.9 points per game and Stansbury considers him one of the premier guards in the SEC.

"Downey, and I said this last year, is absolutely the best in this league and one of the best in the country getting into the paint, finishing plays or creating for other people," Stansbury said. "He's that good. Now he's shooting the ball about 36-percent from the 3-point line. That makes him even that much more dangerous."

State has dropped two straight games and Stansbury feels they need to play as close to flawless as possible to have a chance on most nights.

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