Texas A&M-Mississippi St. Preview
Texas A&M and Mississippi State will become much more
familiar with each other starting next season.
This time, the Aggies are trying to continue their dominance
over non-conference opponents.
Ray Turner looks for another strong effort of his own Thursday
night when No. 19 Texas A&M faces the Bulldogs for the first
time in 45 years in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer
Classic at Madison Square Garden.
These teams will soon become accustomed to seeing each other
more frequently starting in 2012-13 when Texas A&M (2-0) moves
from the Big 12 to the SEC.
The Aggies, co-favorites with Kansas to win the Big 12 this
season, have won 12 of 13 against non-conference teams. They will
be facing the Bulldogs (2-1) for the first time since 1966.
Texas A&M hasn’t had much trouble so far this season,
posting a pair of wins by a combined 47 points. The Aggies never
trailed in Sunday’s 83-58 rout of Southern, four days after an
81-59 victory over Liberty.
Turner has scored 20 points on 9 of 11 from the field in each
game. The junior forward, tied for the team lead with 14 rebounds,
averaged 4.0 points and 3.2 boards as a reserve last season.
“I’m probably in better condition than I’ve ever been,” Turner
said. “I keep my head focused, I’m not just doing it for me, but
for all my teammates and everyone.”
Turner’s dramatic jump in production is quite welcome with Khris
Middleton, the team’s leading returning scorer, out 3-4 weeks after
While Turner gets comfortable with his increased role,
first-year coach Billy Kennedy is trying to re-acquaint himself
with the team after his return Sunday. He missed the season opener
after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last month.
“I’m trying to get acclimated to what’s going on,” Kennedy said.
“I’ve been relying on my assistants, who have done a tremendous
job. I just don’t want it to be about me. I want it to be about the
players and the organization.”
Those players have shot 61.0 percent through two games and
dominated the boards to the tune of an 83-50 advantage.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is aware of the challenge
that awaits his club, which is looking to build on Saturday’s 80-65
win over South Alabama.
“Obviously, we are facing a great team in Texas A&M, who was
picked to win their conference,” Stansbury said. “They have a lot
of experienced players back from a year ago, and we will have to
play at our very best.”
Stansbury could use some consistency out of Dee Bost, the team
leader with 17.3 points per game and 3.3 assists.
The senior guard made 6 of 13 shots, but missed 6 of 8 3-point
attempts while scoring 16 points and grabbing seven boards
Saturday. He was far worse from the floor three days prior,
shooting 2 for 9 overall and 1 for 6 from beyond the arc for 13
points in a 68-58 loss to Akron.
Bost feels the Bulldogs can make a statement in this
“These are the type of games you practice hard and work hard
for,” he said. “We feel like we have a lot to prove.”
The winner of this game will face either St. John’s or Arizona
in the tournament’s championship game Friday night after the