The Mississippi State basketball team is on the bus this morning bound for Newark, N.J., where they’ll play in the final two rounds of the Legends Classic. Friday’s game against Washington State is set for 4:30 central; the consolation and championship games will be played Saturday starting at 4:30.
The Bulldogs got a good win under their belts last night, holding off St. Bonaventure 76-71 in Olean, N.Y. Jarvis Varnado led the way with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks. Ravern Johnson had 18 points. A lot of good to talk about, but some bad news: Freshman point guard Dee Bost sprained his ankle and is “doubtful or questionable” for Friday, coach Rick Stansbury said.
But, let’s focus on the good from last night. Stansbury was eager to see how his young team would handle its first road game. The Bulldogs (5-0) built a 15-point lead in the second half, but the Bonnies rallied to tie it up 71-71 late in the game.
“We got the big lead, then they came back and tied it up. Our guys didn’t fold right there,” Stansbury said this morning via Gregg Ellis‘ cell phone. “Those kind of experiences you can’t simulate in practice. You’ve got a chance to crack, you’ve got a chance to fold, and we didn’t do it. We got squeezed, and we found ways to make stops and make plays to win the basketball game.”
Stansbury offered some other thoughts about his team:
• On Bost and his backup, freshman Twany Beckham (8 points, 3 assists, 20 minutes): “We were very fortunate that Twany came and rescued us. He played with a lot of poise, played with a lot of toughness, played a lot more minutes that he was ready to play.”
• On the play of Johnson, a sophomore: “He found ways to score the basketball, and he showed a little toughness late last night. He got seven rebounds on the road, he got a little putback on an offensive rebound, scored it to put us back up three. All these kind of experiences he’s playing in now are only going to make him better.”
• On facing Washington State: “The challenges will continue to be at the point guard spot, No. 1, we’re going to be playing two freshmen guards – if Dee can go – against a really good guard (Taylor Rochestie), and we’re going against a veteran, smart team that’s been through a lot of wars.”
I’ll have an update/Legends Classic preview for Friday’s paper.