Bulldogs Post Impressive 72-54 Win Over UCLA

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Mississippi State completed its coast-to-coast road swing with another impressive basketball victory Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs led from start to finish in a 72-54 romp over UCLA at the 16th annual John R. Wooden Classic played in the Honda Center.

MSU's fourth straight victory came on the heels of a 76-45 win over DePaul at the SEC/Big East Challenge Thursday night in Tampa, Fla. After that win, the Bulldogs had to fly cross country and in less than 48 hours moved its overall record to 7-2. Meanwhile, UCLA, a traditional Pac-10 power, fell to 2-6.

For a second straight game, the Bulldogs started strong and were never tied or behind in the contest. Ravern Johnson scored a 2-point basket and Barry Stewart drilled a 3-point basket, leading to a quick 5-0 lead. The defensive prowess of Jarvis Varnado was also on display with a couple of quick blocks in the first five minutes.

Three-point baskets by Stewart and Ravern Johnson sparked an 8-0 run as MSU sprinted to a 17-7 advantage. The Bulldogs kept up the defensive pressure, forcing a pair of turnovers to again spark a 9-0 run. A putback by Johnson capped that run, giving the Bulldogs a 32-14 advantage with 5:23 left in the opening half.

MSU kept the early offensive momentum it had established and eased into a halftime with a 40-19 advantage. Again the contest proved quite similar to the Bulldogs' last outing. In that game, DePaul managed less than 18 percent shooting in the first half, as MSU held a 35-15 lead the break.

In the second half, MSU kept the rhythm. Another 3-point basket by Johnson capped a half-opening 5-0 run as the Bulldogs built a 45-19 advantage. The Bulldogs held a 20-plus point lead for the opening 10 minutes of the final half.

The 3-point shooting of UCLA's Michael Roll helped the Bruins make a final run. An 8-2 burst by UCLA cut the Bulldogs lead to 61-45 with 7:08 remaining in regulation. Again, the Bulldogs kept up the defensive pressure to move back out of danger.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 28 of 59 shots from the field (47.5 percent), 9 of 23 shots from 3-point range (39.1 percent) and 7 of 12 shots from the foul line (58.3 percent). The Bruins hit 22 of 64 shots from the field (34.4 percent), 4 of 20 shots from 3-point range (20.0 percent) and 6 of 13 shots from the foul line (46.2 percent).

MSU had 11 assists and 12 turnovers, while UCLA had 12 assists and 10 turnovers.

Johnson finished with a career-high 29 points for the Bulldogs. Varnado added 13 points, 11 rebounds and had seven blocked shots. Roll paced UCLA with 17 points, while Malcolm Lee had 16 points.

MSU returns home to host Wright State at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Humphrey Coliseum. That contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

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