By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – As Mississippi State keeps searching for that elusive commodity known as chemistry, Jarvis Varnado continues to be the linchpin of the team.
The senior center nearly had a triple-double, scoring 12 points with 15 rebounds and eight blocks as MSU (3-1) pulled away from Texas-Pan American for a 75-50 win Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
Through the first four games, Varnado is averaging 16.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 6.8 blocks per game. He’s shooting 68.6 percent from the floor.
“Jarvis is supposed to dominate those guys,” coach Rick Stansbury said. “But Jarvis been good for us, his effort’s been good. I think since the first night we’ve been able to rest him a little bit.”
He got good scoring help from point guard Dee Bost (13 points), Barry Stewart (12) and Ravern Johnson (11). The Bulldogs shot 52.6 percent from the field, including 40.9 percent (9 of 22) from 3-point range.
Bost, Stewart and Johnson had two 3-pointers apiece.
However, Stansbury is still not pleased with his offense’s rhythm or some of the unforced turnovers.
Bost took some of the blame for that. He had four assists but four turnovers as well.
“I was kind of forcing issues, speeding up, and should’ve just slowed down, took my time and then make things happen on their own,” Bost said.
Kodi Augustus returned to action after a two-game suspension. The 6-foot-8 junior had no complaints about his 21 minutes – of course, he wasn’t made available to the media after the game – in which he totaled nine points and eight rebounds.
“I don’t remember getting on him one time,” Stansbury said. “I got on him a couple of times (when) a guy drove by him, but he didn’t try to force things tonight.”
Augustus started the second half, and less than three minutes in he had a big block and then nailed a 3-pointer on the other end for a 48-34 MSU edge, its biggest lead to that point. State opened it up after that by decisively winning the battle in the post. Each team had 16 points in the paint in the first half; MSU outscored Pan Am in that area 20-4 in the second half.
MSU saw a 33-21 first-half lead shrink to 33-31 at the 3:07 mark, but the Bulldogs reeled off nine unanswered points and led 42-33 at the break.
State had nine turnovers in the first half to Pan Am’s four.
Pan Am (0-5) had no scorers in double figures and shot 18.8 percent in the second half.
MSU returns to the road this weekend with two games at the South Padre Island Invitational in Texas – against Richmond on Friday, and either Old Dominion or Missouri on Saturday.