Streaks Don't Match

Mississippi State is on a losing streak, but Arkansas hasn't done well in Starkville. Something has to give Saturday in an SEC basketball matchup.

The streaks don't match up for Arkansas' trip to Starkville on Saturday to play last-place Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs (13-13, 3-10) have lost eight straight games. The Razorbacks (17-9, 6-7) have lost 12 straight in Starkville. Something has to give.

But don't think Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is overlooking the Bulldogs. He sees another spunky team much like South Carolina, a team sharing the basement with the Bulldogs and a tough out for the Hogs Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena. The Gamecocks pulled even with the Hogs, 55-55, before falling, 71-64, in a flurry of UA foul shots in the final minute.

"I know what Mississippi State will be, a hungry team," Anderson said. "They are scrambling and fighting and have been tough at home. It's life on the road. We have to impose our will."

It's not like Arkansas has prospered on the road. The Hogs have won only at Vanderbilt in a 1-5 SEC road season. They did play well before losing in the closing seconds last week at Missouri.

"Anybody is capable of beating us and we are capable of beating anyone," Anderson said. "We've got to go make shots. They are a team that creates turnovers, a small, quick team. And we were sloppy with the ball last night. We've got to attack, but shore up the turnovers."

On the Arkansas misery in Starkville, Anderson said, "They have to something to do with that. They've been good and they play well at home. They play well there. Apparently, we haven't imposed our will there very much."

State's emphasis is on the defensive end where it is among the SEC's top teams in coming up with steals with 211. That compares to the Hogs' 222 steals. The Hogs forced 29 State turnovers last year, but Anderson said there is a more settled look to the ball handling in Starkville this year, especially with Arkansas product I. J. Ready.

"We are going to do what we do and that means trying to create havoc," Anderson said. "We want to pressure, but they are better at handling the ball. They are a year older and a guard like Ready helps them.

"They are quick and athletic. They are going to come ready to guard us. They mix their defenses and they double up. They are active and get after it."

Craig Sword leads the Bulldogs with 13.6 points per game after scoring 33 in a 92-81 loss at LSU on Wednesday.

"He's going to attack you, get to the basket and try to get to the foul line," Anderson said, noting Sword has shot 148 foul shots this season.

The Hogs are led by Bobby Portis, now the team leader with a 13.1 average, just ahead of Ky Madden's 12.8. Madden struggled against South Carolina.

"He only played 22 minutes but he looked tired," Anderson said. "He didn't have any energy. We have to have energy on Saturday."

The Hogs got a spark on both ends from senior Mardracus Wade. He made big plays down the stretch, including a 3-point shot with 1:10 left that gave the Hogs some breathing room.

"He impacted the game," Anderson said. "He got a key offensive rebound, made a shot, made plays. He was efficient. His experience is showing."

Anderson said Moses Kingsley, a 6-11 freshman, should be closer to full speed after playing "gimpy" with a hip bruise against Carolina.

"He gave us some good minutes out there together with Bobby," Anderson said. "I thought he and Bobby rebounded it and so did Coty Clarke and Michael Qualls. We have to be active on the boards again this week."

Game time Saturday is at 4 p.m. The game will be on SEC TV.

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