Howland prepares for SEC debut

Mississippi State’s Ben Howland prepares to coach in his first Southeastern Conference game against Auburn on Wednesday. Howland previews the contest and what it will be like to have Rick Stansbury back in Humphrey Coliseum.

Mississippi State Head Coach Ben Howland

On starting SEC play …

“The level of competition has definitely stepped up. You look at our conference schedule of 18 games and 12 of our 18 are against teams in the top 50 in the RPI. The level of play with our opponent has really ramped up.”

On Coach Rick Stansbury …

“I think I made it clear with how much respect I have for Rick Stansbury in all that he has given to the Mississippi State basketball program, starting as an assistant coach. He was the lead recruiter for many of those teams that Richard Williams coached. He did an unbelievable job as the head coach for 14 years. I am excited for Stansbury. He gave his heart and soul to this place. I hope that the fans will come early and be there to honor him.”

On Malik Newman …

“He is shooting the ball really well right now. He is getting into a groove where he is letting the offense come to him and also creating well for others. He passed the ball well in the last game. He is getting used to playing at a different level with new teammates.”

On playing Texas A&M …

“They have a really good freshman named Tyler Davis who is really going to be a special player. He is 76 percent from the field right now averaging 12 (points) and 6 (rebounds). He is a load inside which causes a tough matchup because he is so big and really seals and uses his body well. Jalen Jones can shoot the threes, is really athletic and really plays hard. He is very aggressive on the offensive glass. He drives well and gets out and transitions, which sets himself up for early feeds in transition. He creates a lot of problems. Alex Caruso is a special player. He has led the league in assists and steals for two years. They are a team that is going to do really well in the SEC and they are off to a great start. They have been dominating good teams.”

On the team clicking

“We are getting a better feel for how we have to play to try to give ourselves a chance at success. We wish we would have done better than 7-5 but it is a brand new season now that it is SEC play. The players are excited. It is fun for them.”

On what he expects to see from Texas A&M …

“Defensively they are really good. They force a lot of turnovers, they help each other and create a lot of steals. They are big inside. They have length and size and they also have depth. They keep their bodies fresh to wear their opponent down.”

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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