Rick Ray feels a little bit better about his team as Mississippi State enters Southeastern Conference play.
The third-year Bulldog head coach saw his team beat Florida State 62-55 at home last Friday, just the second win in eight games. Before that win, the Bulldogs lost five-straight and and six of seven.
“I think this team right now is on an upward motion,” Ray said.
The Bulldogs (7-6) entertain Tennessee (8-4) tonight in a contest that matches the two youngest head coaches in the SEC. Ray is 37 days older than Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall. Tip is set for 8 p.m. from Humphrey Coliseum with the contest being broadcasted by the SEC Network.
MSU is 45-36 all-time in SEC lid-lifters and are 30-16 in those games at home. Against the Volunteers, the Bulldogs are 3-3 to start SEC play, with 2007 being the last time they opened SEC play with UT. The Vols won that day 92-84 in Knoxville.
Tennessee has won three-straight against Mississippi State – the last a 75-68 victory in the Hump last season – and won nine of the last 12 games, but the Vols have a new head coach. Tyndall, the former Southern Miss coach, is in his first season.
“They’re playing well,” Tyndall said of the Bulldogs. “They’ve had some injuries that have hampered their team the last few weeks. It looks like guys are getting healthy. They had a great win against a really good Florida State team. I know it will be a tough, competitive game.”