Campbell tied a game-high with 14 points, while also cleaning the glass 10 times in 22 minutes of action, while Ignerski tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Timmy Bowers added 13 points, while Derrick Zimmerman and Winsome Frazier each scored 11 and Ontario Harper chipped in 10 to round out Mississippi State's double-digit scorers. Chris Dade led BWBA's offensive surge on the night, tallying 14 points.
"Anytime you play an exhibition game, you are never sure of what to expect," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. "You have no knowledge of your opponent.
"The first half, offensively, they sagged and played soft," said Stansbury. "That was something we hadn't even thought about attacking. I thought we stood around a lot offensively because of the way they played us defensively. The second half our defense created our offense and got us going. I think that turned the game around."
Stansbury, even though Campbell has a solid night, expects more out of his very talented big man.
"He got 10 rebounds, but that doesn't always mean he was getting them due to effort. Sometimes he gets them because he is big. When he really understands how hard you have to go to rebound, that 10 will be 15. He also got 14 points, but it should have been 24. Is he better than he was? There's no question that he is. Is he where we want him to be? Nope. But if he was, then he would probably be in (the NBA)."
A pair of Durelle Brown free throws tied the game for the ninth time just 4:06 into the second half before he and Bruton combined to score the game's next five points and give Branch West a 41-36 advantage with 15:07 remaining. After flirting with the lead for the next minute or so, Zimmerman's jumper at the 13:58 mark gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. The visitors got to within one, 44-43, on Percy White's jumper with 12:26 left, but a pair of Bowers free throws seconds later sparked the Bulldogs on a 22-5 run that put the game out of reach.
Branch West scored the game's first seven points of the contest to take an early lead, but Harper's tip-in with 17:35 remaining in the opening period fueled a 12-3 run by the hosts, capped off by a Campbell tip-in that gave State a 12-10 advantage just less than five minutes later. Zimmerman's layup with 44 seconds remaining gave State its second six-point advantage of the half.
"We were without some players tonight," Stansbury said. "We lost Branden Vincent in practice yesterday when he had some teeth knocked out. Wesley Morgan had knee surgery on Friday and is out for a month and Stephen Cowherd has been out for a week and a half.
"With Mario, it was a game time decision," said Stansbury. "We made a decision (at 5 o'clock this afternoon) to hold him out until we get an issue cleared up. We found out at 5 o'clock this afternoon about this. It has nothing to do with (the NCAA investigation). It is an issue that we have to clear up. I'm going to leave it at that."
As to when Austin will be back on the court playing, there is no way to know based upon the comments made by Stansbury.
As to the status of the injured players for the upcoming Thursday night game against the Harlem Globetrotters, Stansbury was less evasive.
"I don't really know (if Cowherd will play). It will be a day to day decision. We will make (Vincent) a mouthpiece on Monday. It just depends on how much soreness he has. We'll just have to wait and see."
Stansbury also commented on the toughness of Vincent.
"We found something that we felt we knew about this kid already. But he proved it to everybody else. After he went to the training room, I looked up five minutes later and he is back on the floor with his tooth in his pocket and both lips swollen and he wanted to practice. I think he is going to be a terrific player for us."
Mississippi State will return to action on Thursday, Nov. 14, when the Bulldogs entertain the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters in MSU's final tune-up of the exhibition season. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum, and tickets are available for $12 apiece.
"The Globetrotters went into St. John's last night and won by 25," said Stansbury about the highly talented team. "After you take the first 3 minutes away, when it was 11-0 St. John's, they outscored St. John's 36 points. We know we are playing a bunch of guys who have been in the (NBA) and are great players. It is an opportunity for us to step up and see how good we can be in some areas."
State will open the 2002-03 regular season with a six-game homestand, beginning with a Saturday, Nov. 23 contest against Louisiana-Lafayette.
BRANCH WEST BASKETBALL ACADEMY (56)
Pondexter 2-9 5-5 10, Bruton 2-5 0-0 4, Brown 3-11 3-3 11, Dade 4-6 3-4 14, Gottlieb 1-10 0-0 3, Bentick 0-4 0-0 0, Austin 1-5 0-0 2, White 4-9 4-4 12, Bridgemohan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-59 15-16 56.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (80)
Harper 4-8 2-2 10, Ignerski 4-10 2-2 11, Smith 4-7 0-0 8, Bowers 5-12 2-2 13, Zimmerman 4-11 2-2 11, Campbell 7-10 0-1 14, Cannon 1-1 0-0 2, Boler 0-1 0-0 0, Frazier 3-8 2-2 11. Totals 32-68 10-11 80.
Halftime - Mississippi State 32, Branch West 26. Fouled Out - Pondexter. Rebounds - Branch West 33 (White 5), Mississippi State 46 (Ignerski 11). Assists - Branch West 12 (Gottlieb 6), Mississippi State (14 (Bowers, Zimmerman 4). Total Fouls - Branch West 12, Mississippi State 14. A - 3,026.
Other Rick Stansbury comments:
Winsome Frazier's Play: "That is the thing we need from Frazier. One thing he can do is shoot the basketball. When you see him shoot it, you see that it looks good when it comes out of his hands. He did exactly what we needed him to do, make baskets."
Ignerski and Campbell filled the void with Austin out: "I was pleased that Iggy had 11 rebounds, Campbell 10 and Harper 7. Those two positions, especially Iggy and Harper's positions, are two where they have to rebound the basketball."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.