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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Late loss dooms already dim postseason hoops hopes

 
 

Saturday night, Mississippi State dropped a disappointing decision to the Auburn Tigers in a game that featured an epic collapse by MSU, while the opportunistic Auburn team converted on buckets MSU left on the table.
MSU, who fell to 13-11 and 5-5 in SEC play, led by as much as 19 in the contest, leading by 13 with 4:21 left to play.
Auburn’s comeback began when Kodi Augustus committed a technical foul with 4:19 left. He had just scored on a jumpshot  and apparently taunted an Auburn player. Auburn hit both technical foul shots and never looked back.
Stansbury points to the technical and turnovers as big reasons for the letdown.
“The technical was the turning point in the game,” Stansbury said in a MSU release. “They hit both free throws and score on the possession. Later, Dee missed the front end of a one-and-one. So you have those two plays and all of the turnovers. Those plays hurt your chances of winning the game. It was a total meltdown in a game that you should have won.”
Rob Chubb followed the foul shots with a jumper that cut the lead to nine, and those were just the first four points in a 17-straight point barrage of shooting exhibited by Auburn, the key points in a 30-9 run for Auburn.
Renardo Sidney fouled Kenny Gabriel in the act of shooting, and the basket went down. Immediately following, Gabriel hit the free throw to make it an old-fashioned three-point play, and Sidney picked up his fifth foul.
The rest of the way was Gabriel taking the game over, with a few free throws from others here and there.
Mississippi State outrebounded Auburn 34-30, led by Sidney who nabbed 13 rebounds himself. However, the telling stat for MSU was the 12 assists to 16 turnovers — most of them unforced.
Dee Bost led the Bulldogs in scoring with 22, but no one else was in double figures. Sidney and Augustus both had nine and fouled out, and Benock had eight.
The Tigers were paced by Earnest Ross’s 21 points and team high seven rebounds, as well as Kenny Gabriel’s mostly clutch 18 points.
This was just Auburn’s second SEC win and the first in its new basketball arena.
This game could have been huge for MSU. It would have been the third straight SEC win, but instead, MSU falls to .500 in conference play.
The Dawgs still remain in second place in the West, which is important because the first and second place teams in each division get first round byes in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs will have to win the SEC Tourney for any chance at the NCAA Tournament.
Although there was not just a ton of hope for an at-large bid before Saturday, there is none now. It would be impossible to attain one as the Bulldogs have too many losses, and several of them are “bad” losses in the eyes of the NCAA.
No one knew exactly what to expect out of MSU this season, but no one involved can be happy with the results thus far. MSU has shown improvement as of late, and for 35 minutes looked like the team onlookers have seen recently. A meltdown of this proportion by a team supposedly playing for its life is just unacceptable, especially against an inferior division rival.
This game did mark the return of Ravern Johnson, who was suspended for criticizing Stansbury via Twitter and missing classes. He was 1-6 and 1-5 from three-point land. Enough shots for you, Ravern?
The road to the tournament bye gets no easier for the Bulldogs, as Stansbury and the boys travel to Kentucky on Tuesday to face off with the Wildcats in the electric Rupp Arena. It will be an ESPN feature game, and after that, MSU will play host to its rival TSUN — Mississippi — on Saturday.
The Bulldogs can ill afford to blow a lead when presented with a clear opportunity to win a contest. The Bulldogs need to win both games this week to feel comfortable with their position as second in the West.
It’s sometimes hard to overcome the disappointment of a loss like this, so we’ll tune into ESPN Tuesday night at 6 to find out if MSU can move past the loss and get it done in a hostile environment.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Late loss dooms already dim postseason hoops hopes