Bulldogs Defeat Wildcats, 67-51

STARKVILLE, Miss. - All-SEC center forward Jarvis Varnado swatted 4 shots to become the Southeastern Conference's all-time leading shot-blocker as Mississippi State (2-1) cruised to a 67-51 victory against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Saturday evening in Humphrey Coliseum.

Varnado surpassed Shaquille O'Neals' previous SEC record of 412 and now has batted 413 shots in his career. The all-star senior also recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in the season's first three games and the 17th of his career.

Three other Bulldogs also scored 10 points, including senior Barry Stewart, who also handed out 4 assists. Sophomore Romero Osby contributed 7 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while freshman Wendell Lewis put up season-highs in both points (6) and rebounds (5).

"It is very obvious that when we lost Phil Turner the first half, we were totally out of synch," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "In the second half, we were better. Obviously, Phil brought some energy, but I thought we all got out and defended a little better. You can't have those moments like we had in the first half."

Junior center Albert Abrahams registered the game's other double-double for the Wildcats, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The first half saw several lead changes before two Osby free throws sparked a 10-0 MSU run. The Bulldogs led 31-24 at the half.

State saw BCU quickly close the gap to just 33-30 in the second half's first four minutes, and responded with an 8-0 run capped by a Varnado layup that put the game out of reach for good. Varnado brought down the SEC's all-time career blocks record with a reject of an Abrahams jumper with 10:20 remaining in the second half.

MSU outrebounded its opponent for the second-straight game, besting BCU 37-32 on the boards, and held the Wildcats to 34.6 percent shooting - the lowest for a Bulldog foe this season.

Mississippi State returns to action Tuesday by hosting Texas Pan-American at 7 p.m.

Official Stats

M2M Free Rick Stansbury Post-game comments

M2M Free Players Quotes Post-game comments

Coaches and Players Quotes

Mississippi State Rick Stansbury Quotes: Opening Comments…

"It is very obvious that when we lost Phil Turner the first that we were totally out of sink. For the next 16 minutes I don't think anything we did offensively or defensively was any good. In the second half we were better. Obviously, Phil Turner brought some energy, but I thought we all got out and defended a little better. You can't have those moments in the first half like we had. They made it tough on us. They would stall the ball and hold it for 20 or 25 seconds then try to make a move. But again, we were totally out of sink the first half but fought back in the second half. We had guys that just picked up their energy the second half - starting with Phil Turner then Dee Bost."

On Jarvis Varnado breaking the block record…

"Well, I'm glad it is out of the way and done. As I told Jarvis, we have to make sure we are playing position defense. To do something that no other college player has done in the history of the SEC is an amazing feat. It is amazing for a man that came here weighing 180 pounds and now leaving his senior year 215 if he is soaking wet. To accomplish what he has accomplished though is amazing. Go back and look at all the great players that have come this league, and there have been some great ones. To say that you have done something that none of those other players have ever done is something he can talk to his grandkids about 70 years from now. That will be very important to him even then."

On the team responding to obstacles…

"We're not going to make any excuses for injuries or suspensions. We will work with the cards we are dealt, and that is what we are going to play with. Injuries are far sure a factor. Those suspensions, because of the injuries, become more of a factor. Now you are losing both ways. That's just where it is though. We will get Kodi (Augustus) back next game. So that's one more guy, one more body you will have. Kodi handles things well."

On junior guard Phil Turner's growth…

"His growth has come as a person. Phil is one of those guys that is difficult to coach. He is a good person, and to his credit he has come miles. I've told him several times this fall that he finally got it. It's good when you can tell a player he has it, and he responds like that. He has it. I'm not talking about on the floor he has it; I'm talking about in life he has it. You can't get it off the court and get it on the court. Because of that, he accepts and understands things. His toughness separates him from a lot of people. Toughens is a great ability."

Bethune-Cookman Coach Cliff Reed Quotes: Opening Comments…

"From the first game of the year to now our fourth game of the year, we proved tough. This is an SEC school. Our effort, execution, and intensity were better tonight than it has been. I am happy, but at the end of the day, the team with the most talent won the ball game."

On Albert Abraham's play against Jarvis Varnado…..

"With no disrespect to Varnado, he is just another player in the way of what we are trying to do, which is to be successful. We do not pay attention to the names on jerseys, just that they are our opponent. Albert played a superb game for us. I keep telling the coaches that Albert will be fine. He just needs to keep working hard."

Mississippi State Player Quotes:

Phil Turner; Junior Guard

On sitting out for most of the first half…

"It was pretty tough. I just got two early silly fouls, so I had to just suck it up."

On suspensions…

"To be honest it does not come up, we do not focus on what we do not have but what we do have."

Jarvis Varnado; Senior Center

On what it means to break the SEC all-time block record…

"It is an honor. Just to be mentioned with Shaquille is an honor. I just thank God and feel relieved that it is over."

On post players scoring alot of points against him this year…

"They do not shy away, their coaches tell them to take it to me, so I just have to improve."

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