Leaders keep Bulldogs upbeat
By DANNY P. SMITH
The Mississippi State Bulldogs look to several players in the locker room for leadership when things aren't going well.
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There are seniors Ravern Johnson, Riley Benock, Kodi Augustus and Brandon Bolen, who have been around and can voice their opinion on certain situations.
When it came to losing two-straight games at home by slim margins, there wasn't much need for talk.
"Everybody knows that when there's a home game early in the season, you can't give them away," Benock said. "We've kind of learned that from the past so everybody had the mentality that we had to get back on the right track."
The Bulldogs did as they dominated North Carolina A&T 74-58 Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
Johnson led MSU with 17 points and Benock contributed 15 to the winning effort, but the value of junior post player Elgin Bailey can't be measured by numbers on a boxscore.
Bailey did score eight points in 16 minutes, but MSU coach Rick Stansbury was quick to point out the thing that most people don't see.
"There's one thing that Elgin is going to give you and that's toughness," Stansbury said. "He's one guy who is mentally tough enough and ready to go."
In losses to Florida Atlantic (61-59) and East Tennessee State (63-62), Benock said Bailey was quick to give a word or two.
"He's probably our best vocal leader," Benock said. "He's kind of a big outspoken guy and people respond to him and look to him."
Stansbury will continue to look toward Bailey for leadership by example as the Bulldogs (5-2) continue their stretch of five games in five days with tonight's encounter with Nicholls State (7 p.m.)
"Elgin is one guy I can depend on emotionally," Stansbury said. "(Saturday) night was not just a loss, it was a tough loss. We come back on a quick turnaround and a small crowd, it can get in your head a little bit.
"The kids think about it less than we do. They don't carry it with them as much."