The youth of the roster hasn't changed. The four sophomores still don't have the same experience as the starting lineup for No. 3 Florida with four seniors, but not many teams in the country do. The sophomores have improved, led by 6-3 guard Craig Sword with 13.9 points per game.
"I think they've got a really talented group of young guys," Billy Donovan said. "A lot of those guys were freshmen and absorbed a lot of minutes and didn't have a lot of experience in front of them. All those guys are better. There's probably no other way to get better than getting the level of experience that those guys had a year ago.
They've certainly played extremely well at home this year. I think (head coach Rick Ray has) a really, really good nucleus of four or five guys."
The Bulldogs are 11-1 inside Humphrey Coliseum this year with the lone loss coming to TCU early in the season. In Southeastern Conference play, Mississippi State has beaten Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
Donovan thinks the reason is Mississippi State's aggressiveness. They start a three-guard lineup with two athletic forwards that can all create defensive havoc and are "good steal guys." Donovan has prepared his team for changing defenses, as the Bulldogs will go from a 1-3-1 zone to a 2-3 zone to a man-to-man defense without a moment's notice.
"They're going to try to turn you over with some pressure," Donovan said. "They're a really, really good help defensive team. They rotate very, very well and they've got good speed and quickness out on the perimeter."