Richard Williams Previews Alabama vs. Miss. State
Coming off an exciting win over Auburn, Avery Johnson's Alabama Crimson Tide returns to the hardwood for a Saturday evening clash against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Last season, Alabama won three times over Mississippi State including a 75-55 dismantling of the Bulldogs in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
During Friday's edition of Inside the Locker Room, former Mississippi State basketball coach and color analyst for the MSU Radio Network Richard Williams provided his scouting report on the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State enters Saturday night's affair with a 14-4 overall record but have built their record off of a non-conference schedule. Out of their 12 non-conference wins this season, eight have come against the bottom half of the NCAA's RPI rankings while one came against Division II member North Georgia. The former Mississippi State coach explained the reasoning for the team's lack of strength in the non-conference schedule.
“The kids on this team this year had not experienced winning, and he wanted them to experience winning, and he just felt like they had to schedule games that gave the team a chance to win some games, and he knew going in that they might not be as prepared as they needed to be for conference play.“ Williams said.
Through 18 regular season games, the Bulldogs are shooting over 46 percent as a team but have hit at less than a 40 percent clip in SEC play. According to Williams, the non-conference schedule played a role in their early season shooting numbers.
“Going into conference play, if you looked at our shooting percentages, you would think we were a great shooting team, but we got so many transition baskets, so many drives to the goal and lay it in against inferior teams, it made our shooting percentages look really, really good and now that we are in conference play, you can see those shooting percentages drop way off.” Williams said.
In his analysis of the Bulldogs, he examined the shooting ability of two of the team’s top perimeter players.
“You look at Quinndary Weatherspoon’s career, he’s been a really good three-point shooter. Tyson Carter is an excellent three-point shooter when he doesn’t settle for 26/27-foot three-pointers. He’s just right at the line or one step behind that line, he’s a really, really good.” Williams said.
Another perimeter player that he highlighted as a key for Mississippi State is sophomore Lamar Peters. The New Orleans native scored 10 points, dished out five assists and recorded three steals in Mississippi State's 80-62 thrashing of Vanderbilt Tuesday night.
Williams discussed the reasons that Peters played so well against the Commodores and how that type of play can be a difference maker for the Bulldogs.
“When he plays like that, Mississippi State’s a dangerous team because he is so quick, so good off the dribble, it’s very, very difficult to keep him out of the paint, and when he gets in the paint and jump stops and then pitches out to open shooters that can step into their shots, Mississippi State’s a much better, and that’s what he was able to do against Vanderbilt.” Williams said.
In Alabama's 76-71 win over Auburn, freshman guard John Petty torched the Tigers for 27 points including eight makes from behind the arc. Williams pointed out a fundamental key that Mississippi State has to do to prevent Petty from duplicating his performance from Wednesday night.
“First of all, you have to try to not let him catch the ball.” Williams stated.
Reaching into his memory as the head coach of the Bulldogs from 1986-1998, Williams further touched on how he would prepare to defend a shooter like Petty.
“We would face guard guys like that. We would play no help. You’d have no help responsibility, no ball responsibility, just get out and face guard him and don’t let him catch the ball and sometimes that can frustrate a player.” Williams said.
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