By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
• Looking back: Mississippi State went one-and-done in the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2006, losing 87-81 to Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Bulldogs had a first-round bye as the Western Division No. 2 seed.
• Looking ahead: MSU is hoping for an NIT bid, but that’s no guarantee. The tournament will announce the selection of its 32-team field at 8 p.m. today on ESPNU.
• Who’s hot: Sophomore Renardo Sidney had a huge second half against Vandy. After missing nearly all the first half with foul trouble, he scored 20 of his 22 points after the break, finding his way to the rim time after time. He also drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 76-76 late.
• Who’s not: It’s hard to tag anyone with this label. Coach Rick Stansbury said he isn’t sure MSU could have played much better against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs shot 50.8 percent from the floor and won the rebounding battle, 35-25, despite Sidney and forward Kodi Augustus spending most of the first half on the bench.
One issue was turnovers: MSU, which ranks last in the SEC in turnover margin, committed 10 to Vandy’s five.
• RPI watch: The Bulldogs dropped a few spots this week, at 119th in the country as of Saturday morning, according to RealTimeRPI.com.
• Bottom line: A tumultuous season is ending on a strong note, even if there is no NCAA tourney invite. State won its final three regular-season games and continued the solid play against Vandy, which simply had better scorers in John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor.
With or without Sidney next season – he said Friday night he hasn’t yet decided on whether he’ll return – MSU will have a good nucleus to go with a strong signing class.