February 27, 2012

Bulldogs searching for a win

It wasn't that long ago that Mississippi State was considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament.

Two weeks ago the Bulldogs were 19-5 and fighting for a bye in the SEC Tournament as one of the top seeds. Now MSU finds itself losers of five straight and barely on the bubble for the Big Dance.

"When you don't win some games in a row you can get there in a hurry and that's what we've done," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "We've lost five in a row. I don't think we've played bad. Scheduling has a little bit to do with it. Three of those (last) four have been on the road and one of the other games was against Kentucky. I think we've had one bad loss that really haunts you and that's at home to Georgia. Two of those losses have been in overtime. You loose Rodney Hood the second half against Kentucky and at Alabama. It's not that my team hasn't played good, we just haven't won those tight games that you've got to win. When you lose five in a row you're going to slip."

The Bulldogs most recent loss was the most lopsided falling 67-50 to Alabama on the road Saturday. State had previously beaten the Crimson Tide 56-52 in mid-January and were tied at halftime on Saturday only to be outscored 42-25 in the second half.

"They jumped up and made some shots this time," Stansbury said of the Tide. "In the second half that's what I thought separated the game. At halftime it was even then they go 5-for-7 from the 3-point line in the second half. Cooper and Randolph made a couple. That's primarily what the difference was, their ability to make some perimeter shots. When you struggle to score that makes the world go around."

Losing Hood especially hurt the Bulldogs starting rotation. The former five-star wing was averaging the second-most minutes on the team and 11 points a game. Hood went down midway through the first half last Tuesday against Kentucky and did not return with a bruised bone in his left knee.

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