Hoops: MSU 82, South Carolina 68

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Mississippi State is back in the SEC Tournament semifinals, where it lost to Georgia last year. This time, SEC Western Division champ LSU is the opponent. Tipoff Saturday is noon Central. Barry Stewart scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, making 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 6 of 11 overall. He had three big threes in the second half to help MSU (21-12, 11-7 SEC) surge ahead of South Carolina (21-9, 10-7). His final 3-ball gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 58-55 with 7:01 to go. “Sometimes you just feel it, and when the shots are falling you just keep shooting,” Stewart said. “The stepback is a move I’ve worked on, I don’t show it much, but I was just feeling it tonight.”

Dee Bost scored 14 points for State, while Jarvis Varnado added 12 to go with nine rebounds and six blocks. He has 152 blocks this season and is six away from passing Shaquille O’Neal for the single-season record (Varnado tied the mark last year). O’Neal, of course, played for LSU, tomorrow’s opponent. “When Jarvis is playing with the energy he’s played with over the last two or three weeks, he’s pretty good in there,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “In these first two games here, he’s playing with great energy.”

Ravern Johnson added 11 points for State, which shot 46.6 percent from the field and 53.3 percent (8 of 15) from 3-point range. MSU out-rebounded South Carolina 50-36(!), which helped offset losing the turnover battle (15-5).  Zam Fredrick led the Gamecocks with 20 points, while Dominique Archie added 16. Point guard Devan Downey was held to 11 on 5-of-20 shooting. Kudos to MSU freshman Dee Bost for leading that effort. Said Downey, “What you want me to say, dog? As far as I’m concerned, he outplayed me two games.”

More quotes from the postgame session, starting with Stansbury:

• “I thought Barry Stewart absolutely took over offensively for us. Jarvis, as he’s been lately in every game, has dominated that post, rebounded that basketball. That was a huge stat, not giving them putbacks, except when we went in that zone.”

• On keeping Downey out of the paint: “No. 1, we were going to try go keep him out of there. When he gets in there, make him shoot it versus dishing it off. For the most part, that probably worked about as well as it can work.”

• On overcoming an early 10-point deficit: “Our bench came in and got us back in that game, re-energized us, closed the gap.”

From Bost:

• On SC’s defense: “First half, they scouted us very well, because teams put two defenders at the top and try to slow me down. The second half, we got stops, and Jarvis got rebounds, and he got it out to me.”

• On “outplaying” Downey: “I honestly wouldn’t call it outplaying him, because he’s probably one of the top points guards in the country. I knew coming into the game I had to stay down in my stance the whole game.”

MSU guard Phil Turner:

• On fatigue factor: “We’re in great shape, but sometimes when you play those many minutes and playing these hard games, it kind of wears on your body. Now our bench is starting to play well for us, and I think our bench has been the difference in how we’ve been playing.”

Finally, SC coach Darrin Horn:

• “In the second half we let them get loose for few threes and went through some periods where we weren’t good offensively.”

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3 Responses to “Hoops: MSU 82, South Carolina 68”

  1. ukrainedog Says:

    I’ve noticed something reading the post-game notes at SECSports.com- Stansbury is impressive discussing x’s & o’s and he knows alot about the opposing player. Whatever else he is, he’s well prepared. Great win; Go State!

  2. mathistondawg Says:

    I agree, I read what he said as well. Coach stans is showing he IS a top notch coach. Also according to secsports, we have to win one more. Just one more guys, c’mon, one more!!!

  3. warbirdz44 Says:

    I’d rather win 2 more just to be safe! 😀

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