January 24, 2011

Challenging week ahead

Mississippi State's schedule has been anything but routine this season so this week's Thursday and Saturday matchups against two of the best teams from the SEC East should come by no surprise.

At least the Bulldogs can say they have home court advantage in both as they tangle with No. 19 Vanderbilt on Thursday night and a noon matchup with No. 24 Florida on Saturday.

"We've got a very challenging week ahead of us starting with Vanderbilt," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "I think it's very obvious at this point they are one of the better teams in this league. I think they have one of the better and most improved players in this league in (Festus) Ezeli. They are very efficient at both ends and have a great shooter in (John) Jenkins and a great player in (Jeffery) Taylor. As always Coach (Kevin) Stallings does a great job with them and are playing as well as anybody in this league right now coming off a great win against a really, really good St. Mary's team. We'll have our work cut out for us."

Mississippi State has faced similar scheduling dilemmas during the month of December when they played five games in five nights heading into a 14-game road trip that spanned though the Bahamas, Hawaii and Las Vegas.

But all of those contests were of the non-conference variety. Stansbury and his squad will now have to prepare for two of the best team in the entire Southeastern Conference.

"The competition level that we're playing is going to be a lot different," Stansbury said. "You've got one of the better teams in the league, if not the best, in Vandy and you've got a quick turnaround Saturday afternoon against a very, very good Florida team that when they are playing is as good as anybody in the East. They've seemed to have their moments when they've played that way and some moments when they haven't.

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