Smith on Sports: MSU shows fight, but fails to find victory

Danny P. Smith

Staff Writer

It was another game on Saturday afternoon where the Mississippi State Bulldogs just weren’t good enough to close.

After cutting the lead to one point against the fifth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, the Bulldogs came up short once again 71-67 and the MSU fans left the Humphrey Coliseum disappointed for the second time in two games.

A slow start cost the Bulldogs as they fell behind 40-25 at halftime, but MSU rallied with a 19-2 run to get within 51-50 at the 8:30 mark of the second half.

The Wildcats knew they were going to be in for a dogfight after the Bulldogs lost 92-88 overtime decision to LSU on Wednesday.

Kentucky coach John Calipari warned his team about that and felt very fortunate to get out of Starkville with another win and said “the first half won us the game.”

Calipari knew the game was not over at halftime and that MSU coach Ben Howland’s squad would not quit.

“They’ve got two runs in them, so we’ve got to withstand them twice,” Calipari told his Wildcats at halftime.

This may not be one of Calipari's best Kentucky squads, but the Wildcats are still good enough to take the best punch by an opponent and still experience success.

That’s just Kentucky being Kentucky. It’s like Alabama in football. Those traditional programs don’t always have to play its best to achieve the result desired.

As far as the Bulldogs are concerned, the time for moral victories is quickly coming to an end if we’re not already there.

MSU continues to show the type of fight that continues to keep Howland encouraged.

“Proud of the guys, proud of defense and proud of the effort,” Howland said.

The Bulldogs can’t have games though where leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon only takes one shot in a half. That can’t happen and MSU wins. He ended up with 14 points, but needed to have been more productive early.

There were too many empty possessions throughout the game where the Bulldogs didn’t score and the Wildcats took advantage.

“You can’t miss shots,” MSU’s Nick Weatherspoon said. “You’ve got to make those.”

With the Kentucky game now in the rearview mirror, the Bulldogs face another team for the second time in Alabama on Tuesday night.

After losing to the Crimson Tide 83-79 in another tight outing a couple of weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, MSU will feel that it can once again be in a game against a very good SEC opponent.

The Bulldogs have three days to figure out a formula for success and keep from losing a third-straight home game.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.