Hogs Lose Nail-Biter To Bulldogs

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Charles Thomas' 3-point attempt for Arkansas at the buzzer went in-and-out, allowing Mississippi State to escape with a 69-67 victory over the Razorbacks in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night.

Thomas, who had made his only other 3-point attempt this season, thought he had made this one, too.

"Actually, I envisioned it happening," Thomas said. "I knew everyone would trap Ronnie (Brewer), so I set a screen and then got myself free. I thought it was good. The ending was not like I thought.

Dietric Slater, the Bulldogs' third point guard, long-rebounded a Brewer 3-point miss with 15 seconds left and the score tied 67-67, and drove all the way for the winning basket with 8.9 ticks left.

Brewer scored 24 points and Jonathon  Modica had 20 to lead the Razorbacks (11-3, 0-1 SEC), who lost in Humphrey Coliseum for the sixth straight time, before an actual crowd of 7,043. The paid attendance was 9,842.

Mississippi State (11-3, 1-0) won for the fifth straight time in the series.

"That's quite a way to start the SEC season," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "We're very fortunate to beat a very good Arkansas team that is much improved."

Charles Rhodes, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward from Jackson, Miss., started quickly in each half and nearly doubled his average while leading the Bulldogs with 18 points.

Hogs coach Stan Heath said the game was hard-fought by both teams, but he said, "I don't think we defended too well, especially at the start. And I know we can play better from the 3-point line (5 of 22) and the free throw line (10 of 21)."

Arkansas missed six straight free throws at one juncture down the stretch.

Heath credited Slater, a left-hander who scored 13 points, with going hard to the basket against Arkansas' transition defense.

"He kind of hooked it in with his left hand," Heath said. "It was hard to deny him."

Stansbury called timeout after Slater's shot with 8.9 seconds left to set up his defense.

Brewer said about the final seconds, "We just wanted to be aggressive and whoever became open would shoot it. They double-teamed me. I had enough confidence in Charles to dish it to him. It was a good shot — it gave us an opportunity to win."

Brewer didn't see Eric  Ferguson, who was also open, but Heath said, "I really thought Charles had a good look at it. He can make that shot."

Stansbury pointed to MSU's defense on Darian Townes, who got in early foul trouble and went scoreless for Arkansas. But Steven Hill, the Hogs' 7-foot center, tied his career high with 10 points.

"That was one bright spot," Hill said. "But I'm disappointed — I thought we could get this game. They killed us on penetration, and we've got to work on that.

"We don't want to let this loss hurt us the way our road loss to Florida did last year. I don't think it will because we're more mature this year. And we have two home games coming up (against LSU and Vanderbilt)."

Arkansas shot poorly against Mississippi State's zone in the first half (36.4 percent) while falling behind 36-26 by intermission.

But the Hogs caught up quickly behind Modica and Brewer and took just their second lead at 44-43 on a Thomas free throw with 14:37 left.

From a 56-49 deficit, Arkansas took a 59-56 lead with a 10-0 run capped by Hill's follow shot.

"We've done a good job in those situations with the lead this season, but that's the best I've seen Mississippi State play this year," Heath said.

Stansbury seemed to agree.

"We outrebounded Arkansas 45-34, and that says a lot considering how big and athletic they are," Stansbury said. "We kept Townes contained — he's been a load for a lot of people — and Thomas only scored five points."

Stansbury said Slater "made a huge play for us. You can't teach those moves."

Arkansas stayed in it by outscoring the Bulldogs 22-2 on points off turnovers, and 14-2 on fast-break points.

Slater's winning bucket was MSU's only fast-break hoop of the game.

Brewer assessed the outcome this way: "I just think we got off to a slow start, and Mississippi State being at home gave them a lot of confidence."

Brewer was asked if he thought the Bulldogs' zone defense was the difference.

"I don't think so, because we got the ball inside and Steven played very well," Brewer said. "A couple of times we were hesitant and not aggressive, and that makes it tough. I definitely thought we would win. I liked our chances — we had a lot of momentum — but they kept fighting back."

Reginald Delk scored 11 points for the Bulldogs and Jamont Gordon had 10 points with nine rebounds.

For the game, Mississippi State outshot Arkansas 45.6 percent to 38.2 percent from the field and 63.2 percent to 47.6 percent from the free throw line.

Stansbury had said on Thursday that the Bulldogs had a very good week of practice, and it showed in Saturday's game. STARKVILLE, Miss. — Charles Thomas' 3-point attempt for Arkansas at the buzzer went in-and-out, allowing Mississippi State to escape with a 69-67 victory over the Razorbacks in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night.

Thomas, who had made his only other 3-point attempt this season, thought he had made this one, too.

"Actually, I envisioned it happening," Thomas said. "I knew everyone would trap Ronnie (Brewer), so I set a screen and then got myself free. I thought it was good. The ending was not like I thought.

Dietric Slater, the Bulldogs' third point guard, long-rebounded a Brewer 3-point miss with 15 seconds left and the score tied 67-67, and drove all the way for the winning basket with 8.9 ticks left.

Brewer scored 24 points and Jonathon Modica had 20 to lead the Razorbacks (11-3, 0-1 SEC), who lost in Humphrey Coliseum for the sixth straight time, before an actual crowd of 7,043. The paid attendance was 9,842.

Mississippi State (11-3, 1-0) won for the fifth straight time in the series.

"That's quite a way to start the SEC season," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "We're very fortunate to beat a very good Arkansas team that is much improved."

Charles Rhodes, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward from Jackson, Miss., started quickly in each half and nearly doubled his average while leading the Bulldogs with 18 points.

Hogs coach Stan Heath said the game was hard-fought by both teams, but he said, "I don't think we defended too well, especially at the start. And I know we can play better from the 3-point line (5 of 22) and the free throw line (10 of 21)."

Arkansas missed six straight free throws at one juncture down the stretch.

Heath credited Slater, a left-hander who scored 13 points, with going hard to the basket against Arkansas' transition defense.

"He kind of hooked it in with his left hand," Heath said. "It was hard to deny him."

Stansbury called timeout after Slater's shot with 8.9 seconds left to set up his defense.

Brewer said about the final seconds, "We just wanted to be aggressive and whoever became open would shoot it. They double-teamed me. I had enough confidence in Charles to dish it to him. It was a good shot — it gave us an opportunity to win."

Brewer didn't see Eric Ferguson, who was also open, but Heath said, "I really thought Charles had a good look at it. He can make that shot."

Stansbury pointed to MSU's defense on Darian Townes, who got in early foul trouble and went scoreless for Arkansas. But Steven Hill, the Hogs' 7-foot center, tied his career high with 10 points.

"That was one bright spot," Hill said. "But I'm disappointed — I thought we could get this game. They killed us on penetration, and we've got to work on that.

"We don't want to let this loss hurt us the way our road loss to Florida did last year. I don't think it will because we're more mature this year. And we have two home games coming up (against LSU and Vanderbilt)."

Arkansas shot poorly against Mississippi State's zone in the first half (36.4 percent) while falling behind 36-26 by intermission.

But the Hogs caught up quickly behind Modica and Brewer and took just their second lead at 44-43 on a Thomas free throw with 14:37 left.

From a 56-49 deficit, Arkansas took a 59-56 lead with a 10-0 run capped by Hill's follow shot.

"We've done a good job in those situations with the lead this season, but that's the best I've seen Mississippi State play this year," Heath said.

Stansbury seemed to agree.

"We outrebounded Arkansas 45-34, and that says a lot considering how big and athletic they are," Stansbury said. "We kept Townes contained — he's been a load for a lot of people — and Thomas only scored five points."

Stansbury said Slater "made a huge play for us. You can't teach those moves."

Arkansas stayed in it by outscoring the Bulldogs 22-2 on points off turnovers, and 14-2 on fast-break points.

Slater's winning bucket was MSU's only fast-break hoop of the game.

Brewer assessed the outcome this way: "I just think we got off to a slow start, and Mississippi State being at home gave them a lot of confidence."

Brewer was asked if he thought the Bulldogs' zone defense was the difference.

"I don't think so, because we got the ball inside and Steven played very well," Brewer said. "A couple of times we were hesitant and not aggressive, and that makes it tough. I definitely thought we would win. I liked our chances — we had a lot of momentum — but they kept fighting back."

Reginald Delk scored 11 points for the Bulldogs and Jamont Gordon had 10 points with nine rebounds.

For the game, Mississippi State outshot Arkansas 45.6 percent to 38.2 percent from the field and 63.2 percent to 47.6 percent from the free throw line.

Stansbury had said on Thursday that the Bulldogs had a very good week of practice, and it showed in Saturday's game.


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