Varnado, Chism Renew Rivalry

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Mississippi State travels to Knoxville today to take on Tennessee (8 p.m., Raycom), and the Bulldogs are trying to snap a skid that’s seen them lose three of their last four games. Tennessee’s lost two straight, so both teams are asking questions of themselves concerning what might be wrong. For MSU, it’s pretty simple: The shots aren’t falling. It’s not an effort problem, and as I write in today’s advance, it’s not a freshmen problem either. Also in the story, I explore the source of UT’s recent struggles.

What I didn’t write about in the paper, but will here, is the key matchup down low. MSU’s Jarvis Varnado and Tennessee’s Wayne Chism are both 6-foot-9 juniors who have been big for their respective teams. Their numbers are quite similar: Varnado’s averaging 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, to Chism’s 13.1 and 8.4 (Varnado has the edge in blocks, of course – 5.0 to 0.9). That’s not all they have in common.

Varnado and Chism both played their high school and AAU ball in Tennessee. They matched up a few times then, and of course they matched up last year – Varnado had five points and four boards, while Chism got seven and six. Each will play much larger roles tonight. They’re looking forward to it.

“He and I had some battles in high school,” Varnado said. “It’s going to be real good playing against him again. It’s always fun.”

Chism had high praise for Varnado, noting his improvement: “He became a different player from high school and AAU, so he’s become a better player; so have I. It’s going to be a good matchup in there. I’ve just got to stay focused and be physical as I’m used to and don’t let nothing bother me. Because it’s going to be a battle down there. He’s going to send everything to the next row.”

Chism’s strategy – the whole team’s strategy, the only strategy that’s been somewhat effective against Varnado – is to go right after him, again and again. “That’s about showing you’ve got heart,” Chism said. “Keep going in there, if you get it (blocked), go back again.” After going through a tough stretch earlier, Varnado is averaging 6.0 blocks per game over his last six outings. Not to mention he’s averaging 18.8 points over the last four games.

And one more note: I won’t be making the trip. The current financial climate has a lot to do with that. It’s going to pain me greatly to not be there, but the AP will cover for us, and I’ll watch it on TV and have a thorough follow-up for Friday’s paper.

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5 Responses to “Varnado, Chism Renew Rivalry”

  1. imabulldog Says:

    Brad, I can’t believe you are going!

    You act like we are in a recession or something where money is tight for businesses. You act like all people do nowadays is get their news on-line or something!

    Just playin BL, you’ve done a good job so far man. Didn’t know what to expect when GG left, but you have done a great job. And you’ve started baseball off great-thanks for all the details and insight. 🙂

  2. imabulldog Says:

    i meant aren’t going…Joke already dead…i suck…nevermind

  3. darkcooger Says:

    Brad: You just better not Tivo it. A real journalist would be out there on the court putting in some buckets of his own, interviewing the refs on each call to make sure you knew what the deal was, and using a rectal thermometer on the crowd so you could know whether they were hot or not. 😉

    Good write up, though. Looking forward to seeing that match. For obvious reasons, I favor JV to win inside. Just hope that we can win the outside game too!

  4. dawgfan01 Says:

    Does anyone know what channel Raycom is on comcast in tupelo?

  5. imabulldog Says:

    I don’t know, but this game is takin WAY to freakin long!

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