Ray talks Tigers

Rick Ray is 1-0 against Auburn (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Rick Ray is 1-0 against Auburn (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Ray spent a few minutes on Monday’s SEC coaches’ teleconference discussing the Bulldogs 1-1 showing last week and their upcoming matchups with Auburn and Ole Miss.

The following is a transcript of the call…

Opening Statement:

Ray: “I thought it was a huge win for us against Texas A&M. They came in leading the SEC in defensive rebounding, field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. I knew it was going to be a grind out ball game. I was really disappointed with our team at Alabama. We shot the ball so quick in the shot clock and didn’t share the ball.

“It was imperative for our guys to realize that Texas A&M was going to be a grind with the way they play. For us to pull out that win we had to have that mindset. We’re looking forward to more SEC play.”

Is there any update on I.J. Ready and his concussion situation?

Ray: “No, it’s still the same.”

How did you counter the Texas A&M defense and how did you have success against them?

Ray: “I don’t know if we necessarily ended up having success. We had a high field goal percentage in the second half but in the first half it was what I anticipated, more of a grind. I thought Gavin (Ware) was able to get himself loose inside. It was atypical for Texas A&M because they were leading the SEC in assists to turnover ratio, but we were actually able to get some steals in the second half and that kind of ignited our offense on the other end.

“I thought more so than anything that Gavin had an opportunity to get loose down low and we knocked some balls loose on the defensive end and translate that into some offense.”

What makes Texas A&M’s defense so good?

Ray: “First and foremost, they do a really good job of anticipating who to guard and who not to guard. We have a lot of guys who don’t shoot the ball well and the first thing that I notced when I was watching tape against Tennessee is they create a lot of high-low play and (Alex) Caruso was guarding one of the Tennessee guys who was not a shooter. Then after the high-low pass he was playing off the guy and went in and stole the ball away because he didn’t have to guard.

“They do a great job with the scouting report and evaluating who to guard and who not to guard. They’ll pack it in on the people that they don’t have to guard and that slowly takes away all of your driving angles and a lot of your post up opportunities.”

What do you do to avoid coming out flat after a win?

Ray: “We’re not going to change anything at all. It’s all in the mindset of our players. Our players have had a chance to experience success in the past and now they are starting to experience a little bit of success. It’s all about them growing up and maturing. There’s nothing that we’ll do as far as our routine. It’s more so about those guys dealing with success. We address that with them and talk to them about it but I don’t think it has anything to do with our routine.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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