BASKETBALL: Rhodes Makes Razorbacks Ill

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State forward Charles Rhodes doesn't like being sick.

But after scoring a game-high 24 points in the Bulldogs' 80-74 win against Arkansas in Humphrey Coliseum, the senior doesn't mind if his flu-like symptoms stuck around for awhile.

"I had a good game," Rhodes said. "I probably don't want to be sick all the time. But probably in SEC games I want to be sick."

Rhodes scored 19 of his points in a dominant first half, hurting the Razorbacks in a variety of ways. He made strong moves in the post. He beat Arkansas downcourt. He added a couple of dunks. He even knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season.

Rhodes' scoring barrage helped MSU build a 47-34 halftime lead.

"I've been in a couple zones in my career, but I've probable never been in one like that in the first half," he said.

It was a different performance than the first meeting, when Arkansas' post players harassed Rhodes in Bud Walton Arena.

Rhodes was limited to 11 points in that game, but frustrated the Hogs in the second meeting even though he wasn't healthy.

"We just didn't know which way his sickness was going," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "(Saturday) morning he said, ‘Coach I can go.' ... He definitely came out and responded in that first half. He was terrific in that first half in every way."

Rhodes knew Arkansas wouldn't give up as many easy scores in the second half. He was right. Rhodes was limited to five points on 1-of-6 shooting in the second half.

But his first-half performance was more than enough to lead MSU to an important win. Even if it was hard for Rhodes to enjoy it because he wasn't feeling good throughout.

"I still can't sleep at night, sweating and stuff," he said. "That's why I've got medicine. Hopefully I'll get better."

Counting on Hunter

Arkansas coach John Pelphrey has been high on forward Vincent Hunter and it showed Saturday.

The senior was the first Arkansas player off the bench and scored three points in a season-high 16 minutes. It was more than starter Michael Washington (12 minutes).

"Mike was healthy, I just thought Vince was a better matchup with Charles Rhodes," Pelphrey said. "I think he did a good job on him in Fayetteville and planned on playing him (Saturday)."

Hunter started the second half and played an important role in Arkansas' comeback. The Razorbacks also turned to him down the stretch, getting Hunter a pair of open 3-pointers in the final minutes. Neither shot fell and Hunter finished 1-for-7 shooting.

"In those situations you can't put your head down," Arkansas guard Gary Ervin said. "We got the shots we wanted.

MSU Takes Advantage

Mississippi State may have been 11th in the SEC in free-throw shooting (62.4 percent), but knocked down 23 of 29 (79.3 percent) against the Razorbacks.

It was the second straight game the Bulldogs made an impression at the line. MSU was 23 of 26 against Auburn.

"I'm not very good at math, but it's pretty good for us," Stansbury said of the performance.

Arkansas wasn't as fortunate. The Razorbacks were 8 of 15 (53.3 percent). They are shooting 59.2 percent from the free-throw line in the past three games.

Rough Homecoming

Arkansas forward and Jackson, Miss., native Charles Thomas didn't play against the Bulldogs in the first meeting because he was suspended for violating team rules. The senior didn't have a happy homecoming in Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.

Thomas scored 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting and grabbed 3 rebounds. He also committed a team-high five turnovers and fouled out for the second straight game.

Block Party

Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado entered the game as the nation's leader in blocked shots, but Arkansas' Steven Hill won the battle of the swats in Humphrey Coliseum.

Hill swatted a season-high tying five shots. The biggest came in the second half, when Hill blocked Ravern Johnson when the freshman was trying to dunk the ball.

Hill had five of Arkansas' seven blocked shots. Varnado finished with three of MSU's six blocks.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories