Mississippi State coach Rick Ray can relate to what Kim Anderson is experiencing in his first season at Missouri.
The former Missouri alum and Portland Trail Blazer inherited a youthful roster with 12 of his 13 players in their first or second year in the program. That inexperience has Anderson’s Tigers in the midst of a 10-game losing streak.
Ray has seen similar skids with a depleted roster during his three-year tenure with the Bulldogs.
“It’s a difficult transition, especially when you’re trying to (rebuild a program) in a power conference like the SEC,” Ray said. “I think Mizzou and my situations are very similar. They had some guys turn pro, some guys leave and don’t have a lot coming back. I think they had a little bit more scoring coming back than in my situation. Everybody knows that coach Anderson is an excellent coach.”
The two teams will meet on the hardwood in Columbia at 3 p.m. today on ESPNU.
Anderson returned to his alma mater this season after leading Central Missouri to a NCAA Division II National Championship last year.
“I just think what it boils down to now is getting guys in there that know what he wants and he gets a chance to implement his system,” Ray said. “It’s fair to say that his guys are fighting and competing because they’ve been in some close ball games.”
Anderson has had his share of success on the court against MSU in the past. He recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in Missouri’s 102-78 victory over the Bulldogs in Columbia in 1974.
The Tigers (7-17, 1-10) lead the overall series 4-1 including a flawless 3-0 mark in Columbia, winning those contests by an average of 17 points.
Missouri has won the previous two meetings including an 85-66 victory in Columbia against the Bulldogs a year ago.
Sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III paces the Tigers averaging 12 points and seven boards a game.
Following impressive wins against LSU and Tennessee, State has been in a bit of a tailspin as well. The Bulldogs (11-13, 4-7) have dropped back-to-back outings against Arkansas 61-51 and Alabama 55-51.
“We just have to move on,” said MSU guard Craig Sword, who did not play in the loss to Missouri last year and shot 0-for-8 against the Tigers as a freshman.
The Bulldogs are led by junior guard Fred Thomas scoring 10.3 points and junior forward Gavin Ware with 10 points and 7.5 rebounds. Thomas poured in 18 points against Missouri last season.