Missouri preview

Gavin Ware leads the SEC shooting 62.1 percent from the field. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Gavin Ware leads the SEC shooting 62.1 percent from the field. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Mississippi State is getting accustomed to life on the road of late.

The Bulldogs will play on the road for the fifth time in eight games this month traveling to Missouri tonight at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network.

“It’s always better to be at home than out there on the road,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “But the schedule is what the schedule is, we just have to follow it.”

So far, MSU (8-11, 1-6 SEC) has not found success on the road either losing all six this season and eight total dating back to last year. The Bulldogs most recently lost at South Carolina 84-74 on Tuesday.

But the last opposing venue the Bulldogs’ won at was Mizzou Arena, the site of tonight’s game.

In fact, State swept Missouri last season with a 77-74 win in Columbia and a 52-43 victory in Starkville. Craig Sword led the Bulldogs in both contests scoring 22 and 15 points respectively.

Despite getting swept, the Tigers still hold a 4-3 edge in the series including a 3-1 mark at home.

Missouri enters tonight’s game in the midst of a five-game skid. The Tigers were dominated at No. 20 Kentucky 88-54 on Wednesday, falling to 8-12 on the year and 1-6 in conference play.

However, Howland is concerned with the size that Missouri has in its low post in senior Ryan Rosburg (6-10, 260) and freshman Kevin Puryear (6-7, 236).

“They have a good inside presence and that’s the thing that’s going to be tough for us, matching up against two traditional bigs,” Howland said. “They are both low post players but Puryear can step out.”

For the past four games, the Bulldogs have started a four-guard lineup using freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon (6-4, 202) at power forward. In that span, Weatherspoon is averaging 18.5 points and 5.3 rebounds but Howland expects to utilize senior forward Travis Daniels more off the bench due to Missouri’s size advantage in the post.

“Putting (Weatherspoon) into the starting lineup, (Daniels) is the guy that’s really suffered the most,” Howland said. “I expect he’ll get a lot of minutes (against Missouri). He had a good practice (on Thursday) and was second in defensive rebounds, which was an emphasis in that practice.”

Howland hopes to have junior point guard I.J. Ready available tonight. Ready rolled his ankle on a made 3-point attempt against South Carolina but finished the game. He did not practice on Thursday.

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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