Bulldogs back at home vs. South Carolina

Mississippi State has been on the road for the past two games but are back at home Saturday hosting South Carolina. The Gamecocks got the better of the Bulldogs 84-74 in Columbia on Jan. 26 thanks to a career-best 34 points and 15 rebounds from Michael Carrera. MSU coach Ben Howland discussed their plans to slow Carrera’s production as well as his team’s heartbreaking loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday.

On Malik Newman’s health…

“Better. Our flight was canceled after the game because of a mechanical problem with the plane so we couldn’t fly out until 11:30 in the morning yesterday. We go back and went to a walk through with the team for about an hour and fifteen minutes and did a little bit of lifting. After we got done with the walk through, he went for at least an hour of good up and down running and shooting at the same time.  It seems like he’s back in terms of his back. He got a little tired yesterday which should be expected because he hasn’t done anything literally in seven days. He probably doesn’t have 100 percent of his conditioning back but he’s a lot closer than I thought he would be for taking seven days off.”

On plane delays affecting schedule…

“Yes, of course. It’s affected everything. We missed class yesterday. It affected every single thing, so it was really disappointing that it happened.”

On defense evolving as a team defense…

“I think that we’ve continued to improve and we’ve had some tough times. We’re having guys who have been in foul trouble in games. Not so much in this past game, which is good for us. This was a game, for example, that Gavin [Ware] did not have foul trouble and was able to play more minutes than he probably should have played because he was exhausted. He wasn’t able to play at the level that he can [against Texas A&M], which was one of his highest minute games of the year. “

On learning from last meeting with South Carolina…

“We better understand what kind of game it’s going to be. If you come out there and expect it’s going to be a ballet, it’s not happening. They’re knocking you around and it’s physical.”

On slowing down Michael Carerra…

“It’s not a secret. Take the challenge on and get tough. “

On visiting with the 1996 MSU Final Four team this weekend…

Yes, we are actually. I’m very excited about that for our team. We’re going to be at dinner tonight with them. Our team will be there for the dinner portion and then they’ll have a program afterwards. The team will have a chance to be dismissed so they can go home and rest and get ready for tomorrow’s game. I just think it’s really nice for them because it’s all Bulldog family. What a special weekend for those guys to be back together for the first time in 20 years to celebrate all of the sacrifice, all of the hard work and all of the success that came from that year. I hope they have a great experience and a great time.”

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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