March 11, 2013
Bulldogs proving people wrong
Rick Ray's first season.
The Bulldogs were picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference in the preseason polls, and that was before losing three more players to season-ending knee injuries.
MSU surprised most when it began conference play with back-to-back wins over South Carolina and Georgia. But then the Bulldogs lost 13-straight games and essentially left for dead and expected to lose out.
State however had different ideas.
The Bulldogs rose up to knock off instate archrival Ole Miss 73-67 at home on March 2. Mississippi State battled South Carolina on the road for a seven-point loss and lost junior shooting guard Jalen Steele for the remainder of the season.
Ray's squad stepped onto the court for the regular season finale against Auburn on Saturday with only six scholarship players dressed. Somehow the Bulldogs were able to channel the emotion of the home crowd into a 74-71 overtime win to finish 13th in the conference standings.
"To come back with six scholarship guys and finish the way that we did, we're really proud of the way these guys are competing and fighting every day," said MSU assistant coach Chris Hollender.
Mississippi State will get a chance to extend their season at the SEC Tournament on Wednesday taking on South Carolina. The two teams split the regular season matchups.
Hollender expects the Bulldogs to come out fighting with the same effort and enthusiasm he has seen all season. Even he was inspired with the way MSU battled against Auburn despite not having Steele available in the overtime win.
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