NOTEBOOK: Johnson quiet in return from suspension

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

AUBURN, Ala. – Ravern Johnson was quiet in his return.
The Mississippi State senior guard’s indefinite suspension ended at two games Saturday.
He played 19 minutes off the bench, scoring three points and making 1 of 6 shots in the Bulldogs’ 65-62 loss at Auburn.
Johnson was originally suspended for “inappropriate tweets” he sent out following a loss to Alabama on Feb. 2. He then missed the next two days of practice and was given the indefinite suspension, so he wound up missing wins over LSU and Arkansas.
Coach Rick Stansbury decided on Friday after practice to reinstate Johnson.
“He’s handled everything OK,” Stansbury said. “That’s why he played.”
The coach didn’t care to discuss it further.
“He’s fine. Let’s move on past that. It’s done.”
Johnson, once the top scorer for MSU, is now second on the team at 17.0 points per game. He’s been struggling in SEC play, and that continued Saturday, as he was just 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Johnson first entered the game at the 14-minute, 24-second mark of the first half and committed a turnover less than a minute later. His only points came on his third shot attempt, a 3-pointer to give MSU a 33-18 lead, its largest to that point.
Johnson was not made available to the media after the game.

Big at the line
– MSU entered the game 11th in the country in fouls committed, at 15.2 per game. It committed only three fouls in the first half, and Auburn shot no free throws.
But Auburn started attacking the basket after halftime and went 7 of 12 at the free throw line. Over the final four minutes, the Tigers had four 3-point play opportunities, converting the free throw on two of them.
Forwards Kodi Augustus and Renardo Sidney both fouled out. One of Augustus’ fouls was a technical with 4:19 to go – after he made a bucket – and Auburn turned that into four points to cut MSU’s lead to 58-49.

Bad history
– This was Auburn’s first SEC win in its new arena in five tries. MSU was also the last team the Tigers beat in its previous venue, Beard-Eaves Coliseum. That was an 89-80 decision on March 3, 2010. MSU is 22-42 all-time at Auburn and has lost three in a row here.

Quotable
– “We had every opportunity in the world to finish the game. Just way too many turnovers.” – MSU coach Rick Stansbury

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@journalinc.com.