Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

Big Game For The Bulldogs, Those Florida Gators

Posted by Kyle Weidie on March 1, 2008

Well, I’ve been out of the country for the past couple of weeks and in the process, missed 3 and 1/2 Mississippi State Bulldog games. I say 3.5 because I was able to catch the first half of the Arkansas game in the airport before I left. I’d say that a 3-1 record is not bad in my absence.

W VS. ARKANSAS
First Half observations: Ravern Johnson is going to be a helluva ball player….evident by the nice dunk he had at the 12:30 mark. Charles Rhodes is an agile big man, with very nice footwork, who has skills which just might translate to the next level, but he will need a good NCAA tournament a la Antonio McDyess for Alabama years ago to really get noticed by NBA scouts. Patrick Beverley made Ben Hansbrough look pretty silly on defense….then again, Beverley is good and Hansbrough is white. The Bulldogs built a 13 point halftime lead despite the usual Jekyll and Hyde act from Jamont Gordon. As for the second half, I caught an update from my father over the phone on my layover in Atlanta….and from the first 60 or so seconds of our conversation, I was under the impression that the Dawgs blew it and lost — only later to get that “a win is a win” relief in finding out that MSU prevailed over Arkansas 80-74 thanks to the strong effort by Charles Rhodes and no thanks to a horrible effort by Jamont Gordon. [game photos from the Clarion-Ledger]

L @ OLE MISS
I initially predicted that the Bulldogs would beat an overrated Rebel squad up in Oxford. They didn’t. Oh well, you can always throw records and theories out in rivalry games such as this. From what I read overseas, it looked like the Dawgs got off to a hot start and were well on their way to routing Ole Miss as they did in Starkville. From the light-hearted nature of the team leaders after the game, maybe they expected to lose. In the end, not being able to stop a freshman point guard (Chris Warren has 22 for OM — not sure who was guarding him) and allowing Dwayne Curtis to dominate the boards with 16 (8 offense) will easily lead to a 74-63 loss to Ole Miss for the MSU Bulldogs, despite Jamont Gordon “limiting” himself to only 4 turnovers.

W (in OT) @ SOUTH CAROLINA
I didn’t read anything about this game except for an email from one of my contacts which pretty much sums it up: I don’t care that we beat USC in OT. Very lucky. Coaching is terrible. Gordon runs wild. Points off turnovers – 26-5 Carolina.” I’ll just go with that “A Win Is A Win” thing again, especially on the road in the SEC. And at least young Ben Hansbrough came through big time in the clutch. Of course, if you go read the Clarion-Ledger or the official MSU site, they will paint the game as pretty picture and a great win. But the fact is that South Carolina is terrible. Right now, they are 12-15 overall and 4-9 in the SEC….a Bulldog team that wants to make noise in the NCAA tournament would have cleaned their clock.

W VS. AUBURN
Auburn is bad too. The Dawgs made them look like a D2 team on the Plains with an 83-64 win back on February 9th. I had a pretty intensive break-down of that Mississippi State-Auburn game on this blog. There was no reason to think that the Dawgs wouldn’t win this one at home on February 27th….they did, 89-78, clinching at least a tie of the SEC West crown. And look! — the team only had 12 total turnovers….Jamont came through with 6 of those 12.

Today’s Game @ The Florida Gators
Here’s where the Mississippi State Bulldogs stand: with a 19-8 overall record and a 10-3 SEC record (and a 41 RPI), the Bulldogs are pretty much a cinch for the NCAA tournament. I think I heard on ESPN this morning that only two SEC teams with 10 conference wins have ever been left out the big tourney (they were talking about Kentucky), but that’s when they played 18 conference games instead of 16. ESPN Bracketology currently has the Dawgs as an 8 seed playing UNLV in Little Rock. Forget playing for the SEC West title, forget playing for higher seeding in the NCAA, forget playing for a chance at the overall, and outright, SEC title……the Bulldogs need to win this one to gain momentum and confidence as a team heading into the SEC conference tournament and the Big Dance. I’ll be heading over to the Crystal City Sports Pub in Alexandria, VA to watch the game and will get an analysis of the game in a subsequent post.

GO DAWGS!

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