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Season officially over, Dogs don't make NIT

March 13, 2011

Men's head basketball coach Rick Stansbury, left, assistant Marcus Grant and the rest of the Bulldogs do not have the opportunity for postseason play this season. (Kim Murrell/SDN)

Mississippi State found out Sunday evening their 2010-11 men’s basketball season was over.
The Bulldogs (17-14) were not selected for the 2011 National Invitational Tournament marking only the third season in 13 years under head coach Rick Stansbury that ended without a postseason.
The season completed with a 86-81 loss in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal contest to Vanderbilt where the Commodores duo of John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor dominated in a second-half comeback.
With the announcement Sunday night of the NIT bracket, the careers of senior starters Ravern Johnson, Kodi Augustus and Riley Benock along with reserve Brandon Bolen officially come to an end.
“I guess it's the first time they have been a part of something they haven't won a championship,” Stansbury said. “They have all come a long way. I'm proud of the development, not as players, but as people. Riley was SEC scholar athlete of the year. Kodi gets his degree in April, and Ray's two classes short.”
Augustus, who averaged 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds this season, ended his career with 11 double-double efforts in his four-year career.
Johnson ended his career second all-time in school history in three-pointers made and finished 11th all-time in points scored.
Benock’s final year in the program was as a starter at shooting guard where he averaged 6.3 points per game and off the floor became just the second player in school history to be named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"I think that makes it stink a little bit more, just knowing the team we had (and) what we were capable of, just hoping we would be able to put it together at the right time, and just didn't work out that way this year,” Benock said.
Stansbury was asked that exact question after the SEC Tournament loss to Vanderbilt Friday night and it was difficult to figure out if he was campaigning for Mississippi State's NIT berth chances.
"I don't know. I don't know," Stansbury said. "I've never had to campaign for the NIT, so I'm not going to campaign for it. I've campaigned for NCAA several times, but I don't know where it lies."
Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin confirmed Friday his office has sent in the paperwork to apply for the 2011 National Invitational Tournament.
The NIT, which consists of a 32-team postseason field among teams not selected to the NCAA Tournament, is an event the Bulldogs have participated in seven times in school history and making the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2007.
"I'll say this, don't matter if we make it or not, we will be as good as a lot of those 32 teams in it," Stansbury said. "I don't think anybody would disagree with that. And I think if you want to take the eye test and get the 32 best teams, I don't think there would be any argument for nobody, we would be one of those 32 best teams."

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