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Posts Tagged ‘college basketball’

Catching Up: Cliffs Notes Version

Posted by Kevin on March 13, 2008

MSU Basketball:

Since my last blog, Mississippi State’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season going 2-1 in their final three games. They beat Florida on the road and had Vanderbilt on the ropes, but could not contain Shan Foster as he went off for 42 points including nine straight from behind the 3-point line.

Senior Charles Rhodes gave the fans in Starkville a performance to remember in his last game in Humphrey Coliseum. Rhodes went from a punk kid freshman so full of himself and upset about playing time that he considered transferring to one of Bulldog nation’s most beloved players in quite some time. With Rhodes there was never any doubt what was on his mind; just ask him. When he was on his A-game he’d let you know it. When he, or the whole team, stunk it up he’d let you know it. I loved that about Rhodes. But the icing on the cake for me was the moment Stansbury subbed him out of the final regular season game against LSU with seconds to spare. Even watching on TV you could just feel the emotion of the moment. I believe every single fan in that coliseum were on their feet cheering for this young man who gave us blood, sweat, and tears for four years. When the time came to leave the game, Rhodes went to center court and bent down and kissed the MSU logo before tearfully embracing his coaches and players. Awesome.

Rhodes and Jamont Gordon were named to the All SEC First Team by the league’s coaches. Gordon joined Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster as the only two players to be unanimously voted to the first team. Also, Jarvis Varnado was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Get this… Varnad’s 114 regular season blocked shots not only set a new school record, but his solo blocked shots were more than NINE of the SEC’s TEAMS this season. That’s just sick. Entering the postseason, Varnado is 14 blocks shy of breaking Shaquille O’Neal‘s current all-time SEC single season blocks record.

MSU Baseball:

The baseball team continues to struggle, but there are signs of life in the Diamond Dogs. Injuries to key players have forced lineup and pitching staff changes. The pitching staff has also not been the strong point that coach Ron Polk had expected it to be. State’s pitchers continue to find themselves behind in pitch counts to far too many batters. In last Saturday’s game against Baylor MSU pitchers walked an amazing 17 batters.

I know it’s early in the season, considering we’ve only played 14 games in a 56-or-so game season, but these statistics are rather alarming. State’s team ERA is 6.96, last in the conference. Ten of the conference’s other teams have a team ERA under 4. State’s pitching staff is also last in the league in opposing team’s batting average. We’ve allowed the most sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flyouts. While those two stats may not be alarming to some, what they mean is we’re allowing more base runners than the rest of the league. State is last in hits allowed, runs allowed, earned runs allowed, walks allowed, doubles allowed, and stolen bases against. Through 11 games, State’s defense turned only four double plays. Most of the reasoning for that is because opposing teams are moving base runners and not being put in force play situations. Stats aren’t everything but they do show trends. These are not good pitching trends.

State opens SEC play against arch-rival #5 Ole Miss this weekend. Next weekend State plays at highly ranked South Carolina. Not a friendly two week schedule but that’s life in the SEC.

AI7:

David Hernandez was eliminated this week. I expected to see Kristy Lee Cook sent home after her barnyard rendition of the Beatles Eight Days a Week. She was so awful I was hoping they’d cut the music and just send her straight home Wednesday night. I’m not sad to see Hernandez leave, though. He wasn’t going to win the competition anyway and I’ll be glad I don’t have to watch him primp for the camera another week. Good riddance, stripper boy.

I give Beatles week to Chikezie. I wasn’t familiar with the song he did, but he showed he’s got more in his bag of tricks than just Luther Vandross impersonations. A close second for me this week is Brooke White. I wasn’t big on her throughout the audition process but once the judges settled on their top 24 she “brought it”. In my mind, Brooke is now far and away the girl to beat and is probably in the top 3 of the entire contest. Mr. Popularity, David Archuleta, survived this week solely on his popularity and hopefully learned a valuable lesson. Don’t forget your lyrics!! He stunk it up bad, forgot lyrics and just looked out of sync the whole time. David Cook rocked out Eleanor Rigby. I really like that guy and agree with Simon that if the competition stays a talent contest rather than a popularity contest, he just might have a shot at winning it. I’m also still really big on Jason Castro. I dunno what it is. He’s about as spacey as you can get, ridiculously uncomfortable in front of a camera, and a horrible interview, but the kid has got serious talent. There’s just something about him that I dig.

Early predictions before next week even gets here: Amanda, Kristy, or Ramiele go home next week.

Posted in American Idol, Mississippi State | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Three Up; Three To Go

Posted by Kevin on February 28, 2008

Mississippi State’s win over Auburn last night, coupled with Arkansas losing to Alabama clinches at least a share of the SEC Western Division championship for the second straight season for the Bulldogs. MSU trails Tennessee by one game for the overall SEC regular season championship.

Senior Charles Rhodes scored a career high 30 points to pace MSU. Stuck at his previous career high of 27 points as the game wound under a minute to play, Rhodes got the ball. He later said he was well aware of his previous career high and how many points he had at the time. Nothing was going to stop him from scoring just one more basket. Of course, I doubt anyone in the building would have expected that basket to be a 3. Rhodes got the ball out on the elbow, turned and dribbled to the top of the key and promptly drained a three pointer to close out his scoring with a new career high 30 points.

State travels this week to play at Florida and at Vanderbilt before closing out the season at home against LSU. Arkansas hosts Vanderbilt, travels to Ole Miss, then hosts Auburn to close out the season. Even with our tough week coming up, I like our chances of clinching the Western Division title outright.

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Huge Basketball Win; Disappointing Baseball Losses

Posted by Kevin on February 26, 2008

Mississippi State rebounded this weekend after last week’s loss at Ole Miss by beating South Carolina 61-56 in overtime. In the closing moments of a back-and-forth second half, neither team could cash in on free throws that could have potentially ended the game in regulation. Down 49-47 with 17.6 seconds remaining, MSU’s Jamont Gordon drove the floor and launched a 3-pointer that – of all things – got stuck between the rim and the backboard off of Charles Rhodes‘ tip. The Gamecocks gained possession and the Bulldogs fouled Evaldus Baniulis with 6.1 seconds remaining. Baniulis, who had not attempted a free throw all season long, missed his first attempt but made his second to put Carolina ahead 50-47.

On the inbounds pass, Gordon streaked down the floor and looked to take what was to be the final shot of regulation, but instead passed to a wide open Ben Hansbrough. Hansbrough took the open three as time expired. How the shot did not fall is a mystery to me. The ball was in the basket nearly below the rim before it ricocheted out. Gamecocks win, right? But wait… there was a foul on the play. Baniulis, who failed to seal the game with his free throws, fouled Hansbrough. After much discussion, 1.1 seconds were put back on the clock and Hansbrough was sent to the line three free throws and State trailing 50-47.

As cool as the other side of the pillow, Hansbrough stepped to the line and calmly sank all three free throws. Carolina narrowly missed a desperation shot at the buzzer as the game went into overtime. In the OT period, State gutted out a much needed win to push their SEC West lead back to two games after Arkansas lost to Kentucky earlier in the day.

Baseball:
After a dominating win by the Bulldogs in Friday night’s opener, State looked poised to sweep the season-opening series against the North Florida Ospreys; however, UNF had other plans. UNF had an answer for everything State did offensively in the early goings on Saturday and exploded for 11 runs in the 6th and 7th innings to take Saturday’s game 17-9.

On Sunday, State never even got started, dropping a 5 spot to the Ospreys in the bottom of the first inning. State never recovered, losing 11-6.

A disappointing opening series by all counts. Of course, it’s just one series. It’s hard to measure what this means for the season, but I didn’t one glaring pitching trend that seemed to carry over from last season. State pitchers were pitching from behind in the count far too often all weekend long. When you give a batter a 2-0, 3-1, or 3-0 count you’re just asking for trouble.

MSU hosts the UAB Blazers this Tuesday in a mid-week game to kick off a 14-game home stand. Coach Ron Polk will send freshman Forrest Moore to the mound. This weekend, the Bulldogs will host first-time opponent Air Force.

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Well That Sucked

Posted by Kevin on February 21, 2008

Mississippi State strolled into Oxford last night with a two game lead in the SEC West and faced an Ole Miss squad that had been stumbling all over itself for the better part of three weeks. SEC road games are rarely easy; rivalry games like this one on the road are even tougher. The 74-63 beatdown the Rebels put on the Bulldogs last night proved that point loud and clear.

With six games remaining in the regular season – four of them being road games – State cannot afford to lose if they are to remain atop the Western division. Arkansas won last night to pull within one game.

It gets interesting for both Arkansas and MSU down this final stretch. Arkansas has tough games remaining at Kentucky and at Ole Miss and hosts Vanderbilt. State travels to South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt.

Baseball:
Head coach Ron Polk has announced his pitching starters for the opening weekend at North Florida. Justin Pigott will start Friday night’s opener. Chad Crosswhite will start Saturday. Ricky Bowen will make his first career start for State in Sunday’s series finale.

In taking a quick peek around the University of North Florida athletics website to check out their team, I noticed a web poll asking what UNF fans thought their record would be against MSU in this weekend’s series. The choice receiving the most votes as UNF going 0-for-3.

North Florida played in Division II through the 2005 season before making the jump to Division I in 2006. In 2005, the Ospreys fought their way all the way to the DII national title game before falling 12-9 to Florida Southern. In 2007 they were ineligible for the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament due to an NCAA reclassification rule. These guys aren’t afraid to play the big boys either. They’ve had success against Florida and Miami already, and will play the likes of North Carolina, Florida, Miami, and Florida State in 2008.

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SEC West

Posted by Kevin on February 17, 2008

Mississippi State served up a helping of revenge on the Arkansas Razorbacks yesterday, defeating the Hogs 80-74 to take a two game lead in the SEC West with six games left to play.  In the overall SEC, State is one game behind Tennessee.

As much as Arkansas usually has State’s number, Saturday’s win marked the 8th straight home win over the Hogs.

The Bulldogs have now won 10 or more home games in each of Rick Stansbury‘s 10 years as head coach.

Sophomore Jarvis Varnado turned in his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  Varnado also added three more blocks to raise his single-season school record for blocks to 114.  Jarvis is now just two blocks shy of 3rd place on MSU’s all-time shot block list.

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Records Are Meant To Be Broken

Posted by Kevin on February 8, 2008

With eight games remaining in the regular season, Jarvis Varnado is just one block shy of tying Erick Dampier‘s single-season record of 106 blocked shots.  Oh yeah…. he’s also the nation’s number one shot blocker.  As a sophomore.  He’s still got some growing to do, and he’ll only get better.  Simply amazing.

Dampier also holds the career blocked shots record at State with 249 (1994-96).  I’m not sure how many blocks Varnado may have had as a freshman, but expect him to shatter the career blocks record before he’s done in Starkville.

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Down The Stretch

Posted by Kevin on February 7, 2008

After getting thoroughly whipped at Arkansas and coming up just short of a miracle comeback against Tennessee, Mississippi State finally got back into the win column last night against Alabama.  For MSU’s post-season hopes, it was a must-win game.  State cannot afford losses if they want to make it to the big dance without having to win the SEC tournament.

The Bulldogs are back on top by one game over Arkansas who was off for the midweek.  This weekend will be big for the SEC West standings as Arkansas hosts Ole Miss and State travels to Auburn.  Hopefully Ole Miss can steal one from the Razorbacks.  State should be able to knock off an Auburn team who is good at home but they aren’t deep on the bench.

MSU head coach Rick Stansbury won his 200th game last night making him the 20th coach in SEC history to reach the 200 win mark.

The win over Alabama marks the first time since 1998-99 that the Bulldogs have swept the regular season series against the Tide.   Including last seasons regular season-ending win over Bama, Mississippi State has now beaten Alabama three straight times for the first time since 1983-85.

Entering the game second in the nation behind Georgetown in field-goal percentage defense (36.3%), State limited Bama to 36.2% shooting on the night marking the 14th time this season the Bulldogs have held an opponent under 40% on field-goal attempts.

Jamont Gordon‘s 10 assists moves him into 4th place all-time (416) on MSU’s assist list ahead of Doug Hartsfield.

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C-Rhodes Out of The Bag

Posted by Kevin on January 28, 2008

“Ole Miss is like one of those games where C-Rhodes just comes out of the bag.”Charles Rhodes

The play in this video was ESPN’s #1 play of the day on Saturday. It says everything about the game that you need to know. The Rebels’ Kenny Williams didn’t even contend the opening tip to start the game. Apparently he took one look at Jarvis Varnado and figured why bother.

MSU now has a 9-game winning streak and a 5-game SEC winning streak – the team’s longest streaks since their 2003-04 SEC championship season.

State is 5-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1993-94.

MSU head coach, Rick Stansbury, holds a 15-5 record against Ole Miss, including a 10-0 mark at home. State has also won 11 of the last 13 meetings against the Rebels, including 23 of the last 25 in Starkville. The Bulldogs are 27-6 all-time against Ole Miss at Humphrey Coliseum.

In holding the Rebels to 36.8% shooting on the day, State has now held twelve opponents to under 40% shooting on the year. MSU is currently second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense behind Georgetown.

The game’s 10,421 fans in attendance marks the 9th largest crowd at Humphrey Coliseum.

With 13 points in the game, junior guard Jamont Gordon moved into 10th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list. His six assists also moved him into 5th place on State’s all-time assist list.

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Triple-Double

Posted by Kevin on January 16, 2008

Jarvis Varnado

Sophomore Jarvis Varnado, appropriately nicknamed Swat, turned in just the third triple-double in MSU hoops history last night as the Bulldogs beat visiting Kentucky 69-64. Varnado had 12 rebounds, 10 points, and 10 blocked shots. Varnado also entered last night’s game as the nation’s leading shot blocker. Varnado now averages 5.47 blocks per game on the season (93 blocks in 17 games. Varnado bested the previous single-game block record (8 blocks held by three different players) earlier this season with 10 against Miami. He also had 10 blocked shots against Georgia.

Varnado is currently second all-time for single-season blocks at 93 this season (Erick Dampier had 106 blocks in 1995-96) with 13 regular season games remaining. He is also fifth on MSU’s career blocks record, just three shy of moving past Rickey Brown into fourth place. With a career .634 shooting percentage, Varnado is now MSU’s career leading in shooting percentage with a minimum of 200 career field-goal attempts.

In posting his seventh 20-point outing on the season – 18th of his career – junior Jamont Gordon scored 24 points to move ahead of Jack Bouldin and into 13th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,271 career points scored. Gordon also matched his career high of five 3-pointers made.

State has now won seven straight games, matching a seven game winning streak dating back to last year’s non-conference schedule. State has also now won six straight SEC conference games dating back to last February.

State is off to its first 3-0 conference start in fourteen seasons. That 1993-94 team started 5-0 in the conference and finished with a 9-7 record.

Coupled with last year’s 84-82 overtime win over Kentucky in the SEC tournament, last night’s win makes just the second time in school history that State has posted back-to-back wins over Kentucky (1962 & 63).

With 15 blocked shots in the game (one shy of a school-record set the week before against Georgia), State has now blocked 10 or more shots in eight games on the season. Having entered the game second in the nation behind UConn, State now averages an even 9.00 blocked shots per game on the season, including an average of 12.75 blocks in the last four games.

Having entered last night’s game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense, State held Kentucky to 38.3% field goal shooting to mark the 11th time this season that the Bulldogs have held an opponent under 40% shooting.

As good as all of that sounds, State is completely the opposite when it comes to closing out games from the free throw line. Of State’s five losses thus far, they have had the lead late in the game only to see it dwindle away when they failed to connect on the front end of 1-and-1 foul shooting. Through 17 games, State has made just 60% from the charity stripe and missed at the worst times. Defense wins championships, but not making free throws loses them.

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