By Gene Phelps
Darryl Wilson had a message for his Mississippi State teammates following Tuesday’s 74-56 loss to second-ranked Kentucky.
“I told the guys, it’s just one game,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s 12th-ranked Bulldogs (10-2 overall, 2-1 SEC) will attempt to end a two-game losing streak on their home court today, hosting SEC West rival Alabama (8-3, 2-1) in a 3 p.m. televised (CBS) game at Humphrey Coliseum.
Kentucky’s over, Mississippi State coach Richard Williams said during a Thursday teleconference.
“We can’t base our season on one game,” he said. “It’s still January. We’ve got 13 more (SEC games) to go. I certainly didn’t think we’d go undefeated.”
Added point guard Marcus Bullard: “You can take this loss the wrong way and let it be your season, or you can get ready for Alabama.”
State took Wednesday off and returned to the practice court Thursday.
“We had to take a (NCAA required) day off,” Williams said. “Our players were tired mentally and physically. The best thing we could have done was take a day off.”
Williams would like to see his team cut its turnovers in half. The Bulldogs committed 28 against against the Wildcats and have averaged 24 miscues in three SEC games. Kentucky, which didn’t need any help, scored 32 points off Bulldog turnovers.
“We made too many mistakes to stay within range of a team like Kentucky,” State forward Russell Walters said.
Alabama’s no Kentucky, but the Crimson Tide has done something State couldn’t do last season beat Auburn. The Tide knocked off the Tigers 72-65 Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
One of the top matchups today will be between State’s 6-foot-11 center Erick Dampier and Alabama’s 6-9 Roy Rogers, who scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds in the win over Auburn.
“Roy is a much improved player,” Williams said. “He’s very athletic, a good shot blocker and a quick jumper. He has also improved as an offensive player.”