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Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press
Auburn center Rob Chubb (41) watches as Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie (23) drives past him for a layup in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Mississippi State won, 91-88.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State has a starting five that looks capable of a deep run into the NCAA Tournament come March.

The bench? Not so much.

With the grind of Southeastern Conference taking its toll on a talented but thin roster, coach Rick Stansbury is searching for anybody capable of giving quality minutes as the 20th- ranked Bulldogs (18-5, 5-3 SEC) prepare to host Mississippi (14-8, 4-4) on Thursday.

That's why sophomore Shaun Smith's brief burst in Saturday's win over Auburn was so encouraging.

The 6-foot-6 guard has been stuck on the bench for most of his two seasons, but he scored five points and grabbed a rebound in seven minutes against the Tigers.

Ole Miss won the first meeting between the two teams 75-68 on Jan. 18 in Oxford.