Mississippi State’s longest winning streak under Rick Ray last season was three games.
Tuesday night the Bulldogs will be looking to get off to a 3-0 start to the year hosting Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m.
“Now we’re preparing for Mississippi Valley State, who really played well at Texas A&M,” Ray said. “They were down just six points with 13 minutes left to go in the game in the second half. They are a quality opponent and really do a good job of penetrating the paint and drawing fouls. We’ve got to do a good job keeping those guys from penetrating the paint and most importantly we’ve got to not foul them.”
The Delta Devils are 1-2 on the campaign picking up their first win 108-48 over Champions Baptist on Friday. MVSU was defeated by Delta State (78-68) in an exhibition game before suffering regular season road losses at Oklahoma State (117-62) and Texas A&M (91-67).
MSU will be without the services of freshman point guard IJ Ready. Ready suffered a strained hamstring during the second half win over Kennesaw State on Thursday.
Ready had started both of the Bulldogs games this season.
“It’s unfortunate that IJ is out but the good thing was the fact that it was a strain rather than a tear,” Ray said. “You have to always be careful with hamstrings so he could be out anywhere from two to four weeks and we’ll make sure we err on the side of caution.”
Junior Trivante Bloodman, who started all 32 games a year ago, will get the nod in Ready’s absence.
Backing up Bloodman will be redshirt freshman Jacoby Davis. Davis missed the entire 2012-13 season with a knee injury but made his collegiate debut playing two minutes in the second half and dishing out an assist. He also missed a 3-point shot.
Davis recently resumed practicing in 5-on-5 contact drills and if there is any swelling in his knee then sophomore Craig Sword will be forced to serve as the back-up point guard again. Sword is a natural shooting guard but backed up Bloodman last year out of necessity and Ray stated he would like to avoid that scenario again if possible.
One of the point guard’s primary objectives Tuesday night will be to feed the ball to sophomore Gavin Ware on the low block. Ware was perfect from the field against Kennesaw State last week scoring nine points and adding 10 rebounds.
“It’s always been an emphasis for us to try and get the ball inside to Gavin,” Ray said. “He shot 100-percent from the field so it doesn’t take a brilliant man to figure out that he needs more touches.”
Ray added three standouts for his next roster last week by signing Amanda Elzy shooting guard Maurice Dunlap, Montgomery, Ala., wing Demetrius Houston and Bradenton, Fla., center Oliver Black.
“We were lucky enough and fortunate enough to sign three quality high school players that we’d been recruiting for a long time,” Ray said. “That came to fruition with their national letters of intents coming through.”
Ray stated Monday that his staff has no intentions of adding any additional players to the 2014 class during the spring signing period.