The SEC Basketball Tournament?will kick off Wednesday?with a pair of match-ups including 11 seed Vanderbilt going up against 14 seed Mississippi State.? Both teams are coming off of rough ends to the season; Vanderbilt losing four straight and Mississippi State losing its last 13.
Needless to say, both teams will be looking for a confidence boost, trying to play the role of underdog throughout the tournament.
Vanderbilt is coming off of a tough loss to Ole Miss, 65-62, a game the Commodores had led most of the way.? The team would have liked to have ended its SEC slate?on a positive note, but coach Kevin Stallings thinks his team can go on a run during the tournament.
“I think it’s more of a thing to where you get there, you win a game; maybe?you kind of get a feeling, get some confidence, you start playing well, and that confidence kind of gets contagious and carries you through,” Stallings said.
The team will need some much improved play from senior forward Rod Odom who’s been held to single digit scoring in three of his last five games, after being the team’s leading scorer for much of the season.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, comes in hoping to completely forget about what happened in conference play after just going 3-15.? To make matters worse, 12 of the team’s conference losses were by double digits.
Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray?discusses Vandy’s style of play.
“I think when you’re playing a Vanderbilt, you’ve got to make sure you rely on your principles more so than just guarding their sets because they do a lot of sets, but more importantly have counters to those sets to exploit anything you do as far as guarding the basketball,” Ray said.
Further talking about the game, Ray said they could encounter a problem against Vanderbilt big man Damian Jones.
“I think he’s a kid who’s got a world of potential, and is going to be really good in the SEC.? So I think having him on the court to give them an inside presence, along with their outside shooters and scorers will be a problem for us,” he said.
The winner of this matchup will face Ole Miss on Thursday.
For audio from the coaches, click below.