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Smith Column: Expect MSU to have more close games

November 20, 2010

Danny P. Smith
Sports Editor

Mississippi State basketball fans had better get ready.
There are going to be more games this season like the one the Bulldogs saw Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
The difference is the outcomes may not be as sweet as it turned out against the Appalachian State Moutaineers.
MSU rallied from a nine-point deficit with 2 minutes left in the game to take a 76-74 thriller against Appalachian State of the Southern Conference.
To win games like this, there are going to have to be some moments for certain players that make a difference.
Obviously, Kodi Augustus getting a career-high 26 points and Ravern Johnson chipping in 19 points for the Bulldogs are going to be the eye-catching numbers at the top of the boxscore.
Not any less important were the three free throws by junior college transfer Brian Bryant.
Bryant's shots with 1:16 remaining closed the gap from 74-70 to within 74-73 and really gave the Bulldogs a realistic chance of pulling out the win.
MSU struggled from the line, only hitting 18 of 29 for the game, so Bryant knew he couldn't take his opportunity lightly.
"I knew we needed some free throws and those were big free throws," Bryant said. "I got up there and kind of calmed myself down and took a couple of deep breathes. When I made the first one, I got confident that I was going to hit the second two."
It's not going to be a bed of roses for the Bulldogs this season because they are going to have to scratch and claw for everything they can win in terms of wins, especially until Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney become eligible.
Appalachian State came to Starkville with a reputation of playing good basketball and have two very good players in Omar Carter and Donald Sims. MSU's Johnson did a very good job of defending Carter, but Sims dropped 40 points on the Bulldogs.
The Mountaineers had already beaten a decent Tulsa team 89-86 so it was expected they were going to hit MSU with their best shot.
At one point of the second half, there were a couple members of the MSU student section who said they couldn't believe they were losing to Appalachian State.
Well, the Bulldogs were able to ease their mind at least for one night by finding a way to win. There are more challenges ahead, starting Monday night against Detroit.
MSU head coach Rick Stansbury was coaching as hard as I've ever seen him coach in the closing moments of Friday's game and his blood pressure had to of reached very high levels.
Even though he was pleased with the effort of the Bulldogs, he understands that this year's club is going to be a work in progress.
"If you've watched us play the first two games, you know we've got to take everyone seriously," Stansbury said.

Danny P. Smith is 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 Daily News or its staff.

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