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MSU's defense has flaw exposed in exhibition win

November 7, 2010

MSU guard Ravern Johnson (2) takes a shot in Saturday's exhibition game against Lindsey Wilson. Johnson had 25 points in the win. (Kim Murrell/SDN)

MSU's defense
has flaw exposed
in exhibition win
 
By MATTHEW STEVENS
sdnsports@bellsouth.net
 
Saturday’s exhibition game showed the Mississippi State men’s basketball program the difference of losing the NCAA’s all-time shot blocker.
And because of Jarvis Varnado’s graduation, the Bulldogs are going to have to play its man-to-man defense extremely different.
“We don’t have an eraser back there,” Stansbury said. “Nobody erasing that ball. We’re letting that guy go by us and no eraser so way too many layups.”
In its 75-66 exhibition victory over NAIA Lindsey Wilson, the announced attendance of 2,310 at Humphrey Coliseum saw a 36-34 halftime deficit and were in danger of dropping its first-ever matchup against the small private college from Columbia, Ky.
“We did not look very smooth on either end of the floor,” Stansbury said. “We played a lot of players today, and we tried a lot of rotations. We played a lot better in the second half on defense, but we still need to get better.”
In his first game since receiving a medical redshirt after trying to rehab his severely dislocating his hip, junior forward Elgin Bailey felt it necessary to remind his perimeter teammates that they need to stay in front of their man because there’s a reason he’s 529 career block behind Varnado in his career.
“I guess we were playing like we had Jarvis,” Bailey said. “They were letting them just drive to the cup but I’m not Jarvis. Last year, you could do that and he’d block it – that’s what he does. Jarvis is gone and it’s me now – we've got to play different.”
Lindsey Wilson’s guard rotation was able to constantly drive into the lane in the first half to earn 11 free throws and get Bailey in early foul trouble.
“We got to pick up on defense in a short period of time,” Bailey said. “We played horrible defense.”
Mississippi State relied heavily on its two returning starters in the current lineup as senior forwards Ravern Johnson and Kodi Augustus combined for 44 points and converted 5-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc.
“That’s the two guys we've got that have been here,” Stansbury said. “A couple of guys we've got to rely on even more so is Kodi and Ravern. They’ve got to take a bigger part. They’re roles have to change because of the makeup of this basketball team.”
The makeup of this current MSU team was without junior point guard Dee Bost and sophomore forward Renardo Sidney. It was known prior to game time that Bost, who is academically ineligible for till the next calendar year, wouldn’t play Saturday afternoon but Sidney, who is suspended for the first nine exhibition games, sitting the entire 40 minutes was a coaching decision based on a unknown leg injury.
State was able to secure the victory based on two trips down the floor when with the score tied and 2:30 in the game, Augustus sank a pair of free throws, secured a defensive rebound, made a three-point shot and the 6-foot-8 forward popped out for a steal near the top of the key.
Augustus would finish the contest with a double-double earning 19 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
“That’s something Kodi is supposed to do,” Bailey said. “Coach put the entire starting five out there so we could take over. The problem is this isn’t a switch you can just turn on or off when you want.”
Lindsey Wilson’s sophomore guard Kalen Kimberland led the Blue Raiders in scoring with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting as the left-hander was about to drive by Bulldogs sophomore Twany Beckham whenever he seemingly wanted.
The combination of Kimberland and University of New Orleans transfer Justin Archie combined for 34 points, 12-for-22 from the field and 10 rebounds.
“I think what happened was in the first half, they were not ready to play,” Lindsey Wilson head coach Paul Peck said. “They came out and tried to play and then the ballgame was on. Our kids didn’t come in here to be in here, they came to win.”
State got no offensive productivity (0 points on 0-for-4 shooting) from perimeter starters Beckham and senior Riley Benock.
“I need to get more out those guys,” Stansbury said. “Gotta be more productive than that – neither of them scores a basket. We don’t have enough of those other areas, man, to beat people without those guys being more efficient. They don’t have to lead us in scoring at all but be more efficient.”
Mississippi State open the 2010-11 regular season right back at Humphrey Coliseum with a 7 p.m. Friday tip against Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee State.

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