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Mississippi State 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview


Mississippi State Bulldogs - Southeastern Conference (SEC) (23-12, 9-7)

Seed: #13 - West Region

RPI: 63

Big Wins: 1/5 Western Kentucky (95-67), 3/14 vs LSU (67-57), 3/15 vs Tennessee (64-61)

Bad Losses: 11/29 vs Texas Tech (73-77), 12/10 Charlotte (76-67), 12/30 San Diego (61-64)

Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Memphis

Coach: Rick Stansbury (4-5 in 5 NCAA appearances)

Probable Mississippi State Starters:

  • Dee Bost, Freshman, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 4.3 apg

  • Barry Stewart, Junior, Guard, 12.3 ppg, 1.9 apg

  • Phil Turner, Sophomore, Guard, 8.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg

  • Ravern Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 12.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg

  • Jarvis Varnardo, Junior, Forward, 13.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.7 bpg


Key Mississippi State Roleplayers:

  • Kodi Augustus, Sophomore, Forward, 6.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg

  • Riley Benock, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg

  • Brian Johnson, Senior, Center, 2.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg

  • Romero Osby, Freshman, Forward, 4.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg


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Why The Bulldogs Can Surprise:
Not long ago Jarvis Varnado was a complimentary player who blocked a lot of shots. He still leads the nation in shot blocking with an incredible 146 blocked shots on the season, but he does so much more than that. Varnado was also a solid rebounder as well and this year is no different. However, now he is also emerging as a great scoring threat under the basket. Quite a few of his buckets are easy put-backs off of offensive rebounds, but Varnado is an efficient scorer and the frontcourt’s best scoring option.

Ravern Johnson is really a wing, but he does usually start at the four spot. And the opposition will have trouble guarding the 6-7 sophomore because he is such a great shooter and has the speed and quickness to blow past most defenders. Johnson usually does not use his size and speed to get the basket, but instead takes a ton of three-pointers. It would be nice if he mixed up his game a little more, but Johnson does hit 40.0 percent of his attempts from long range and nobody can blame him for taking three-pointers when he converts that many of them.


Why The Bulldogs Can Disappoint:
However, with Johnson at the four spot, Mississippi State has a lot of trouble on the glass. Outside of Varnado, there is no major rebounding threat. Kodi Augustus and Romero Osby rarely play enough minutes to make much of a an impact on the glass, but at least Coach Rick Stansbury has a couple bigger bodies that can help out in the rebounding department. The other big issue for the Bulldogs is turnovers. Point guard Dee Bost has done an admirable job for a freshman running the show and is a good scorer, but he must keep the team under control.

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Who To Watch:
With Varnado manning the paint, the Bulldogs get quite a few open looks from beyond the arc. Johnson and Bost will hit some, but so will the two starters on the wing. Barry Stewart is the most dynamic scorer on the team. Unlike Johnson, he will use his speed to get the basket and compliment that with his outside shooting. Turner is not as productive of a scorer as Stewart or Johnson, but he has been picking up his scoring numbers late in the year. Turner’s biggest asset to the team is his rebounding. During his late year surge, Turner has been hitting the glass much more effectively and if that continues into March he will help neutralize one of Mississippi State’s biggest weaknesses.


Mississippi State By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.1 (62nd in nation, 7th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 69.7 (218, 7)

Field-Goal Percentage: 43.7 (172, 10)

Field-Goal Defense: 39.9 (33, 3)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (16, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.8 (68, 4)

Free-Throw Percentage: 70.9 (103, 5)

Rebound Margin: -1.0 (225, 11)

Assists Per Game: 12.7 (190, 8)

Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (212, 9)


Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Washington


By Joel Welser Senior Basketball Writer


> Find more 2009 NCAA Tournament coverage online from College Sports Fans and print your NCAA Tournament brackets today!

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