By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State is starting to turn Humphrey Coliseum back into one of the toughest venues in the Southeastern Conference for opposing teams.
The Bulldogs are 12-1 at home this season, including a 2-0 start in league play. MSU, 12-5 overall, has already surpassed last year’s win total by two games.
The Bulldogs have yet to drop back-to-back games on the year but have been up-and-down in conference play. State has lost both its SEC away games, against Kentucky and Alabama, by an average of 20.5 points.
“The key for us from this point on is how we deal with this success,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “We had some success against Ole Miss and came out and laid an egg against Alabama. Now in our next game, how do we deal with the success of having a good victory against Texas A&M? I don’t know about our guys, but I told them I plan on having to deal with success.”
Next up for the Bulldogs is a Wednesday home matchup with Auburn. MSU has won four straight over the Tigers overall.
Ray has shown improvement in Year Two at the helm of the program.
He inherited a program decimated by attrition and early entries in the NBA. Ray battled multiple injuries and suspensions during his rookie campaign going just 10-22 and finished 13th in the SEC standings with a 4-14 record with a roster filled with mostly first-year players.
Returning with a year of experience, Ray can see the improvements his team has made in his second season.
“We still are not a skilled basketball team and that’s the next step that we need to make as far as becoming a good team,” Ray said. “I think our guys are buying into what we’re doing defensively and offensively at times. But in order for us to take that next step we’ve got to get some guys who can make some shots and passes.
“There’s gradual steps in building a program and guys getting to the point where they become good basketball players. … It’s a process.”
Is Ready ready?
Freshman point guard I.J. Ready left the Alabama game with a concussion last Wednesday after taking a charge.
Ready did not dress for the Texas A&M game on Saturday.
Ray had no update on Ready’s condition when asked on Monday.