Howland heads to Rupp Arena

Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon to talk about the Bulldogs’ loss to Arkansas over the weekend and preview their game at No. 9 Kentucky Tuesday night.

Opening Statement…

“We are heading into playing at Kentucky which is one of the hardest places to play in the country, its right there with Kansas and Arkansas. It is definitely a tough home court. They are a great team and obviously they are playing well right now. They had a big win on the road with Alabama. Their guard play in the back court is as good as anyone in the country. I am really impressed with [Tyler] Ulis to do whatever he can do to help his team win. He is playing 39 minutes a game, so essentially he never comes out. He is an incredible all around player. Their defense forces a lot of turnovers and pressure. It is a big challenge for us and we are looking forward to going and playing against them.”

On Craig Sword playing differently…

“Their defense is so spaced out, so there is less help. When we played [Texas] A&M they were more like a packed-in defense, and they really played with the off-ball defenders in the lane and sitting in the paint, where as Arkansas is a team that really gets out and gets accurate. It doesn’t open up a whole lot to allow him to drive. He shot the ball well from the three, especially in the first half. They were less spaced out. Chicken [Sword] needs to work on moving the ball more. We were shooting too quickly the other day and we need to take our time more.”

On what it takes for a team to win on the road…

“To win on the road you have to play great defense. Defense is what travels best. You have to do a good job of being better defensively. I thought our block outs were better last game. We shot a higher percentage from the three. The first half they were 8-for-13. It starts with our defense. It starts with us doing a good job taking care of the ball and not getting turnovers. We had 14 in our last game, which wasn’t terrible considering how hard they played defensively. You have to make your foul shots. We also need to do a better job at executing offensively. Move the ball better, better executing and setting better screens. We can’t get sped up because of the crowd. We were down by three with six minutes to go in the game and then we lost by 18. I was really disappointed in our last 5 minutes of play, there was no sense in us losing like that.”

On Travis Daniels’ offensive production…

“He had eight rebounds and six points in 52 minutes of play. He had an open three in the corner at the start of the second half, where he if just drove to the basket he would have had a dunk or a layup. He needs to be more aggressive when he has an open shot instead of worrying about passing. He passed up an open shot with four minutes to go in the game against Texas A&M. My deal was if you aren’t going to shoot the open shot you need to have someone else in for you. He has shown he can do that in the past.”

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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