BASKETBALL REWIND: Mississippi State (15-3, 3-0 SEC)

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Looking back: MSU picked up a pair of home wins last week, but in vastly different fashion.
After nearly blowing a 19-point lead, the Bulldogs held on for an 82-80 victory over Arkansas on Thursday. Then they rallied from 13 down over the final 4 minutes, 8 seconds in a 72-69 win over Georgia on Saturday.
Looking ahead: MSU is off until Saturday, when it visits Alabama (11-6, 1-2) at 11 a.m. The game will be televised by CBS.
Who’s hot: Last week, senior center Jarvis Varnado averaged 15.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 8.0 blocks per game. Sophomore point guard Dee Bost averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists.
Who’s not: After a decent game against Arkansas, junior sharpshooter Ravern Johnson hit just 2 of 11 shots versus Georgia, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range. He’s currently second in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage (47.0).
RPI watch: MSU is up to 44 in the rankings, fourth-highest in the SEC.
Early in the season, that ranking was as low as 146. With three consecutive wins, the Bulldogs could jump back into the rankings.
Bottom line: MSU’s last two games have shown just how good it can be when things are working. That’s when the 3-point shots are falling, Bost is driving and dishing, and coach Rick Stansbury’s two staples for success are present: defense and rebounding. When they’re bad, the Bulldogs are very beatable, especially in a league that appears to be deeper and tougher than last season.
So what MSU needs to find is consistency, because the schedule doesn’t get any easier.

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