By Brad Locke / NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Maybe it’s because his season keeps getting interrupted, but Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney still can’t find that second wind.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore forward has had conditioning issues since he first took the floor Dec. 15 against Belhaven in an exhibition game. He played only 15 minutes that game.
Then he played 25 minutes against Virginia Tech, was suspended a game, played 20 against San Diego, was suspended two more games, and played 26 minutes in Saturday’s 75-57 loss to Alabama.
So while Sidney’s minutes are going up, his production isn’t. He managed just two points against Bama and was less effective on defense after halftime, when counterpart JaMychal Green scored 14 of his 16 points.
“You’ve got to finish,” coach Rick Stansbury said. “That’s something that we know he can do, but it’s very obvious the conditioning played a big factor in him not finishing anything today.”
When asked why Sidney wasn’t in better game shape, Stansbury said, “Hey, you know the answer to that.”
Pushed further, he said, “Wish he was, put it that way. Wish he was, but he’s not. What it is, is what it is.”
Dee Bost, the junior guard who missed the first 14 games of the season because of academic and NCAA suspensions, also ran out of gas Saturday. But this was, after all, his first game, and prior to last week he hadn’t practiced with the team since Dec. 9.
“Whatever Dee did, it’s just what he’s going to be until he can get himself back in game shape, and there’s a difference in practicing and game shape and all that,” Stansbury said. “It’s very obvious he had no rhythm on his shot tonight, I mean absolutely none.”
Bost scored 14 points but was 5 of 16 from the field. He missed his first five free throws and was 3 of 9 from the stripe.
“Like coach said, I guess my legs wasn’t there,” Bost said. “I didn’t play the way I was supposed to play.”
• Senior Ravern Johnson, MSU’s best shooter the past couple of seasons, has lost his touch of late.
He was 3 of 16 from the field against Alabama, including 2 of 10 from 3-point range. Over his last five games, Johnson has made just 27.2 percent of his shots, 16.7 percent (6 of 36) from downtown.
“He never really got it going consistently out there, kind of like everybody else,” Stansbury said. “It was very obvious early in that game we were really uptight.”
As a team, MSU shot 5 of 24 from 3-point range, and over the same five-game span has shot 26.1 percent from deep.
Digging a hole
• An 0-1 start in SEC play certainly is not a death knell for MSU, but at 8-7 overall, it’s got to find a groove, and quick. Alabama is good enough to win a relatively weak Western Division, and falling further behind will only exacerbate an already delicate situation in Starkville.
No doubt, the Bulldogs have dug a hole over the past month.
“That old hole, I don’t even look at that hole,” Stansbury said. “We’ve been digging for a while anyway, so we’re used to digging, and we’ll keep digging.”
Bost, who’s been part of the 2009 SEC Tournament champion team and last year’s Western Division winner, is keeping a positive outlook.
“We’re going to make a run,” he said, “so no worries right now.”
But he also understands the gravity of the situation and how little wiggle room MSU has right now.
“It don’t stop right here with this one loss,” Bost said, “and if we let this loss carry over, then it’s going to be a long season.”
• MSU’s next game is at Ole Miss on Thursday. State won both meetings last year. … With 11 points and 11 rebounds, senior Kodi Augustus has seven double-doubles this season and nine in his career. … Alabama snapped a five-game losing streak at Humphrey Coliseum. … MSU is 2-4 when trailing at the half.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571