No. 11 Bulldogs Coping With Loss of Frazier

FAYETTEVILLE -- The end of No. 11 Mississippi State's 16-game road winning streak had more to do with the loss of senior Winsome Frazier than Tennessee's desire for clean jerseys.

Vols coach Buzz Peterson took away his team's jerseys last week, creating a smelly environment, but Tennessee's olfactory motivations nearly weren't enough to stave off a furious Mississippi State rally from down 16 at halftime.

Tennessee held on for a 64-63 win after Mississippi State (14-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had several chances to win the game but couldn't overcome the loss of Frazier, one of its best defensive stoppers and top big-game shot-makers.

The Bulldogs' loss will make Arkansas' job that much tougher this Saturday in Starkville when the Hogs (13-3, 1-2) try to snap a 10-game SEC road losing streak at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Tennessee jumped on Mississippi State early with transition baskets and the Bulldogs struggled to find offensive answers with Frazier (13.3 points per game) sidelined for the season with a broken foot.

Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury's voice was more hoarse than usual on the day after a game.

"We learned what we knew going into the game," he said. "We're going to miss (Frazier). We gave up easy baskets in transition, we didn't create anything off our defense, all those things.

"When you don't do those things, that's why you're down 16 at halftime."

Preseason All-American Lawrence Roberts scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds; senior guard Shane Power added 17 and some huge 3-pointers down the stretch, but no other Bulldog scored more than Deitric Slater's seven.

Junior transfer Jamall Edmonson had six points starting in Frazier's place, but senior 7-foot center Marcus Campbell was typically unproductive with 2 points, a rebound and 3 fouls in 12 minutes.

Senior Ontario Harper had six points and helped out with nine rebounds and sophomore Gary Ervin struggled mightily without his running mate Frazier.

Ervin shot 0 of 4 from the floor and had five turnovers to four assists.

Despite their struggles, Mississippi State still had chances to win against the often hapless Vols, who had already lost to Nebraska and Tennessee-Chattanooga at home.

Stansbury said having good carryover from the second half to Saturday against Arkansas will be crucial.

"In the second half we loosened up and did a few things better," he said. "We have to learn from that and grow from the positive experience we had in the second half and get better from there."

Before Frazier's injury, Mississippi State looked like a strong possibility to roll to a second straight conference title after going 26-4 and 14-2 in the SEC last season.

The Bulldogs went through its nonconference schedule 11-3 with losses to No. 6 Syracuse on Nov. 18, 71-58, and No. 17 Arizona, 68-64, on Dec. 5.

Roberts wasn't himself early on, particularly in the Syracuse game, after breaking his nose in the preseason.

He had to wear a protective mask and wasn't truly comfortable until after the Arizona game when the Bulldogs fell behind by double-digits early before another rally in the closing moments.

Now he's averaging 19 points and leading the SEC with 11.3 rebounds per game.

"He's one of the best in the nation," said Arkansas sophomore Ronnie Brewer.

Power is the only Bulldog other than Roberts averaging double figures with 10.5 points per game now that Frazier is gone.

Harper and Ervin are likely candidates to step up their 8.3- and 7.3-point scoring averages.

Edmonson and Slater also will see their minutes go up.

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