Rick Ray won his first Southeastern Conference road game against Georgia in 2013.
The third year Mississippi State coach has not won on the road since. The Bulldogs will seek to snap a 19-game road skid when they travel to Florida today at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports South.
“We’ve got to find our confidence,” said MSU junior forward Gavin Ware. “We know who we are. We just have to pull that out of each and every individual on our team. We know who we are and know what we can do. We know our strengths and weaknesses and we’ve got to pull that out and keep giving a full effort every time we step foot on the court.”
However, winning at the O’Connell Center may prove particularly tough. The Gators are 7-2 at home against Mississippi State under coach Billy Donovan and the Bulldogs have not won in Gainesville since 2008.
It has been an up-and-down season so far for the Bulldogs, who enter today’s game at 7-7 overall.
State dropped its conference opener at home to Tennessee 61-47 on Wednesday. The Bulldogs shot a season-low 30.6 percent from the field and made just 11 field goals which resulted in its lowest point total of the year.
Mississippi State also missed 20 free throws and were out-rebounded by the Volunteers by 16.
“We’ve got to find a way to execute our plays more and keep our defense tight,” said MSU junior guard Craig Sword.
Ray does not foresee any carry over between Tennessee’s style of play and what he expects to see from the Gators today.
“Florida and Tennessee is a totally different situation,” Ray said. “Tennessee is a team that’s going to play a 2-2-1 press back to a zone every time. Florida’s going to be a team that’s going to run and jump and then go back to a man-to-man.”
The Gators are 8-6 on the year having won its SEC opener 72-68 at South Carolina on Wednesday. Junior guard Michael Frazier II paces Florida with 14.3 points per game followed closely by junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith averaging 13.9 points. The duo combined for 17 points against MSU last season.
Florida leads the all-time series against the Bulldogs 61-49 including a 38-13 advantage at home. The Gators have won four straight in the series including a 62-51 victory in Starkville last season.