Rhodes Schools Tigers In Bulldog Win

Charles Rhodes scored 21 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in the Bulldogs' victory over Auburn.

Starkville, Miss.--The Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Auburn 71-53 in Starkville behind 21 points and 19 rebounds by sophomore forward Charles Rhodes.

Rhodes hit 8-13 shots from the floor and 5-7 from the foul line.

"Their difference was that they had an inside player who was just terrific," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "I think he's pretty good. He's an All-SEC type power forward and he dominated every aspect of the game in this one."

The Tigers shot poorly making 21-62 from the field for 33.9 percent. The three-point line was open all game but the Tigers made just 4-26 from long range. Frank Tolbert and Daniel Hayles were both 0-5 and Quantez Robertson was 0-3. Rasheem Barrett hit two threes early but failed to hit another the rest of the game, finishing 2-6.

"You've got to make shots and we didn't do that," Lebo said. "We played hard on the defensive end, but that gives you the gasoline and the energy to play defense. Hayles, in the first half, gets three open ones and doesn't put them in.

"We even had some fast break situations where we missed lay-ups or a dunk and then they score on the other end," he added.

Led by 19 boards from Rhodes, the Bulldogs out-rebounded Auburn 49-33.

Barrett's two threes gave his team a 6-1 lead early but turnovers cost the Tigers as State went up 7-6. Both teams were out of sync offensively for much of the half and Rhodes was too good on the offensive glass for Auburn to stop.

With Auburn's center Joey Cameron on the bench with an injury, Rhodes seemed to shoot until he scored on several possessions but he wasn't given much help by his teammates offensively as both teams struggled to score.

"We didn't have enough depth to do anything inside," Lebo said. "Emanuel Willis is hurt, he's been out and now Joey's out. We're down to nine scholarship guys and it's hard to practice with limited people."

Korvotney Barber was also limited in action by picking up three quick fouls early in the game.

"We never got into any flow and couldn't score around the basket with Josh (Josh Dollard)," Lebo said. "For the first time we looked fatigued with our lack of depth. This is the time of year they where down a bit."

The Tigers took care of the basketball for the most part after several early mistakes, but the shot selection for both teams wasn't particularly good in a low scoring first half.

A lay-up by Rasheem Barrett made the score 28-26 with 3:21 remaining but the Tigers failed to score for the rest of the half. Gordon and Slater scored the last five points as the Bulldogs led 33-26 at intermission.

The Tigers continued their offensive woes to start the second half while State jumped out 43-26 on a three-pointer by Jamall Edmondson. LeMelle finally broke the seven-plus minute scoring drought with a three of his own but the damage had already been done.

Auburn battled foul problems after getting whistled for 16 in the first 20 minutes. State continued to get to the line in the second half as Rhodes and Jamont Gordon went to the line a combined 20 times in the game. Auburn only went to the line only 12 times as a team.

A jumper by Dollard cut in to the Bulldogs' lead to make the score 59-49 but that was as close as the Tigers could get. They continued to shoot the ball poorly, missing countless open shots and didn't score again for another six minutes.

The Tigers return home for a game with Ole Miss on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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