By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Although Mississippi State is in the midst of a season-long nine game losing streak, Rick Ray continues to see his team battling down the stretch.
Six of the losses during the Bulldogs skid have come by 11 points or fewer, including a 73-69 setback to Arkansas last Saturday.
“You don’t give yourself a chance to get out of this funk and win if you don’t play hard and compete,” Ray said. “The thing you always worry about is are your guys giving an effort when they go out and play. But I don’t think there’s been too many times besides the Georgia game where we just didn’t give an effort at all.
“I’ve thought we’ve been pretty competitive as far as playing hard and giving an effort. When you start not seeing an effort on a day-to-day basis in practice, which is even harder to get up for than a game, then I’ll start getting concerned about things.”
MSU hosts Tennessee on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Volunteers have won three of their last four trips to Humphrey Coliseum.
Point guards I.J. Ready and Trivante Bloodman both spent the final moments of the Arkansas loss on the bench with injuries sustained in the game.
Bloodman left at the 12:55 mark of the second half with what the trainers initially believed were cramps in his left leg. Ready went out with 19 seconds left after getting scratched in the eye.
“I.J. was was checked out by an eye doctor immediately after the game and there was no sort of scratch or anything on his eye or retina which would cause him not to practice. Trivante Bloodman is a little bit of a different situation. He’s in a boot right now. They determined that it was actually cramping that was the problem due to having a calf strain. The cramping was a cause of him not trying to further injure the calf strain.”
Ray chose not to practice Bloodman on Monday but expected to have him available Wednesday.
Ray opted to play walk-on wing Tevin Moore ahead of scholarship sophomore Fred Thomas against Arkansas. Moore, a Northwest Mississippi Community College transfer, logged a career-high 17 minutes and scored five points against the Razorbacks while Thomas did not see action.
“I wanted to give Tevin a look there and see how productive he could be,” Ray said. “My thoughts were if Tevin wasn’t productive at all then we’d go with Fred as the next substitution but I thought Tevin did some good things so we stayed with him.”