December 3, 2012

Ray seeking first half success

There have been a couple of reoccurring themes in Mississippi State's five losses this season.

The Bulldogs have dropped all five games away from Humphrey Coliseum and have dug themselves an early deficit in the first half by an average of 19.8 points.

MSU's only two wins have come at home with them leading at intermission.

"We have to get off to a start where you don't put yourself in a hole where it ends up being insurmountable," said first year head coach Rick Ray. "We've got to give ourselves a chance to win ballgames. With the way we start off the game in the first half we don't give ourselves a chance to win the game. I'm not happy. A lot of people are patting us on the back with the way we came back and competed in the second half. I'm not satisfied with that."

The Bulldogs battled back down 59-33 to Providence with 11 minutes left to within five points under a minute to go. But State fell short 73-63 and dropped to 2-5 on the young season.

One huge positive for the Bulldogs in Saturday's game was the resurgence of senior center Wendell Lewis. In his second game coming off the bench, Lewis notched his first double-double of the year with a career-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"I'm glad Wendell had a good game," Ray said. "He is capable of outputs like that. He's got the athleticism and the body, he just now has to have the mentality to go out and compete every day. It's a huge jump for a guy who's been a role guy into a guy who's actually counted on to score. It seems like an easy jump but it's not."

Lewis is Mississippi State's lone scholarship senior and joins junior Jalen Steele as the only two returning players with a bulk of experience. The only other returning scholarship player from last year's squad, Roquez Johnson, is currently leading the Bulldogs in scoring.

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