Ever since he stepped on campus, we immediately noticed something about this 6-9, skinny kid from Brownsville, TN…he could block shots and play defense. Slowly but surely, Jarvis Varnado became a household name amongst the MSU fanbase, not to mention amongst opposing camps as well. Varnado’s sophomore and junior seasons, we saw him win back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, watching him develop his offensive game every step of the way. And, last night was the perfect example of what we’ve come to expect of the Bulldog senior. 17 pts, 8 blks, 10 rebs, and 2 stls. The 8th and final block of the night for Varnado, put his name atop the NCAA’s All-Time Blocked Shots Record. Swat now has 142 on the season, and 536 for his career. JV’s record block, couldn’t have come at a better time, mainly because State seemed to be more preoccupied with the record, than the competition at hand. But after the historic moment, which took place at the 4:26 mark, the Bulldogs continued their efforts to put away Alabama, and did so 74-66.
Dee Bost, took the initiative to keep the Tide at arm’s length, with consecutive 3 pointers around the 3 minute mark. That was icing on the cake for Bost, who finished with 22pts, on 7 of 9 shooting. The Bama game, marked the 5th time of the season, that Dee has put up 20 or more points. State also received a strong performance from the ever maturing Kodi Augustus, who posted 11pts, on 4 of 7 shooting, 7 rebs (3 off.), 3 assts, and 1 blk. Other Bulldogs to contribute were Ravern Johnson with 12pts, and Barry Stewart with 9pts, who’s lone 3 of the night, surpassed former Bulldog Darryl Wilson’s school record for Career 3 pointers made. Overall for the night, State shot 47%, 34% from 3 Land, and 68% from the stripe. Bama’s Mikhail Torrence, posted an impressive 23pts, followed by Hillman with 13, and Green with 12.
MSU now improves to 20-8 overall, 8-5 in SEC play, and is now atop the SEC Western Division. Taking care of their remaining schedule, would give State their 5th SEC West title in 12 years. Many experts have said the Dawgs need wins in 3 of their last 4 regular season games, and State checked one of those off the list- last night.
Stansbury: "Our deal now is three games...that's all we've got to worry about...it was one of those games this time of year you have to gut it out...It wasn’t the prettiest but we made the plays when we had to make it.” Varnado: "I saw Torrance coming in the hole and knew he was going to try to get off that floater, I went and got it.” On his and Stewart's records: “There was a time in that huddle we all talking about celebrate when the game is over with a win, let’s get focused on what we need to do...It was becoming part of that game and the only thing that matters is winning the game.”
What’s ahead for State? Saturday @ USC, Next Wednesday @ Auby, and home for #17 UT. As I have said, the road trip to Columbia scares me, but Auburn on their home rims, are tough too. Otherwise, bring on UT!