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.