Recapping MSU's 71-61 loss to Georgia on Thursday in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
NEW ORLEANS | Mississippi State's NCAA bubble just might have burst tonight. For the second time this season, it lost to Georgia, which entered this game as the tourney's No. 11 seed (MSU was No. 6).
I'm not going to do my normal game recap tonight, because while the minutiae is important – and I'll include some here – there is a bigger picture we need to consider. I want to hit on a lot of quotes, of which you'll find none in tomorrow's gamer due to a tight deadline.
We got to speak with Renardo Sidney for the first time since the preseason. The SEC has an open locker room policy for the tournament, so Rick Stansbury's media ban does not apply. I have some video of Sidney, so CLICK HERE.
Sid harped on an inability to crack Georgia's zone defense, which UGA coach Mark Fox said was a different kind of zone than what it used on Feb. 11 in Starkville, when his team won 70-68 in overtime.
"We worked on getting it to the post in practice. Once we got in the game, it wasn't the same playing against the Gold Team," said Sidney, referring to the MSU walk-ons. "They played hard. They played harder than us. It was hard to get the ball down there, because their zone, I can't explain it."
Georgia had five guys score in double digits, led by Gerald Robinson's 23 points. He burned MSU in the first meeting, too. The red-clad Bulldogs shot 51 percent overall and 36.8 percent from 3-point range, including 4 of 9 in the second half.
It was 34-34 when Georgia went on a 10-0 run. The lead increased to 49-36, but State fought back to within 60-57 behind Jalen Steele's hot hand. He scored 19 points, shooting 6 of 12 overall and 4 of 9 from 3-point range.
State shot 38.2 percent, including 29.2 percent (7 of 24) from deep.
"We had some turnovers, and they led to transition threes or transition buckets, and they got to the foul line, and it kind of spread us out where we missed shots and made turnovers. That's just about it," said freshman Rodney Hood, when asked about that 10-0 run.
So, MSU (21-11) has lost six of its last eight games, endcapped by losses to Georgia (15-16). Do the Bulldogs of Starkville deserve an NCAA at-large bid? Sidney declined comment on that topic, although he said he hopes one comes.
"We beat some good teams," Hood said. "We've got the talent. We've got bad losses just like every other good team. I don't see why not. I know we're going to be on the bubble, but I don't see why not."
Stansbury has already begun lobbying for a bid. Those will come out Sunday.
"Hopefully, the selection committee will look at our entire body of work," he said. "This team is one of the 68 best in the country. They deserve a chance to play in the (NCAA) Tournament."
Of course, being one of the best 68 teams in the nation doesn't mean you get in. Automatic bids make sure of that.
Regardless of whether MSU gets a bid, this is a team boiling over with frustration. Arnett Moultrie, who on Feb. 27 called out teammates and said he didn't think this team could pull out of the five-game losing streak it was experiencing, declined to talk after the game. He was held to seven points and eight rebounds, shooting 3 of 10.
"Because I don't feel like it. I don't got nothing to say," Moultrie said.
Sidney said the Bulldogs "didn't have no heart" against Georgia. The 6-foot-10 junior had a rough game, limited to 19 minutes by foul truble. He had four points and five boards.
I asked Sidney about his future with MSU. "I don't know yet," he replied.