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Georgia 70, No. 20 Mississippi State 68: Some day-after analysis of a confusing loss

 

Matt Stevens

 

STARKVILLE -- The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog certainly needed some time to sleep on and fully digest what occurred in Mississippi State's two-point loss to Georgia Saturday. Here's a quick look at what happened in what has to be considered the worst loss of MSU's 2011-12 campaign so far. 

 

 

 

- What we learned? 

 

This is what MSU coach Rick Stansbury said two months ago when I approached him about upset home losses throughout the country and what his message to the team has been to avoid such a thing happening in Humphrey Coliseum.  

 

"You just hope you're mature enough and understand enough, and you understand every day what's at hand," Stansbury said. "You can't be looking forward and you can't be looking back. Is it always easy to do? No. It's human nature." 

 

Stansbury documented in early December that his concern was his team not having the toughness to overcome a Thursday-Saturday turnaround while also not being mature enough to look past Georgia's 11-12, 2-7 record to take them seriously as a Southeastern Conference opponent.  

 

"That's not an excuse or anything," MSU senior point guard Dee Bost said. "We just didn't bring it, and this is what we get tonight." 

 

Against a better rested but less talented and undersized Georgia team, MSU (19-6, 6-4 in SEC play) in every hustle category by a team that was 316th in the country in field goal percentage, 297th in points per game, and 247th in rebounding margin. Georgia had 18 offensive rebounds, including four apiece from sophomore forwards Donte' Williams and Marcus Thornton and a 6-foot-5 freshman guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. 

 

Arnett Moultrie, who leads the SEC in rebounding at 11 per game, had just six touches off the glass (his second lowest output of the 2011-12 season) against an inexperienced and undersized front line. 

 

"I am not going to make any excuses (because) Arnett has been good all year, (but) he just did not have it today," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "His game is about energy and athleticism. That's a challenge we knew we would have to face." 

 

This lack of toughness issue is a continuing problem for MSU through the final two months of the season and especially since they go on the road for two games this week at LSU and Auburn. We look into is deeper in the sidebar of MSU's game in Sunday's edition of The Dispatch - http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=15617 

 

"We needed to be able to put Thursday night's game (a victory against the University of Mississippi at Humphrey Coliseum) behind us and to get our emotion and energy back up to where it needs to be in 36 hours. It is obvious it did not happen against a very good Georgia team." 

 

 

 

Here's where we evaluate the faulty late-game situations that plagued MSU in Saturday's loss. First is the final possession where as we documented here on The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog that every coach in Division 1 coach in America will either make Bost give up the basketball or deny him from touching it to begin with.  

 

"Yeah, I told (Georgia senior guard Dustin Ware) to not let Dee touch the ball," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "He's so talented and if he touches the ball then he's laying it in near the rim." 

 

However, similarly to the Baylor loss before New Year's Day, MSU has no option when Bost is denied the basketball and with eight seconds left the result became an off-balance three-point runner shot that hit nothing but air as the final horn sounded.  

 

The confusion apparently was that Bost, a four-year starter at point guard assumed Stansbury would call a timeout but when Stansbury let the flow of the action take place while Georgia scrambled its transition defense, the execution wasn't what the 14-year coach has envisioned.  

 

"I would've thought he would call a timeout but I guess he wanted us to push it and catch them off guard," Bost said.  

 

With MSU likely to play close games again, seeing as how five of the first six SEC home games have been within five points or less, what to do in the final possession of a full court situation will have to be figured out very quickly. 

 

Also, Stansbury used two timeouts and clearly didn't get the execution he would've hoped for. On the offensive end directly after Stansbury drew up a half-court set, MSU junior center Renardo Sidney took a 15-foot uncontested jump shot that clanked off the rim with plenty of time left on the shot clock. Let's not make the mistake to say that 'well, Stansbury drew up a dud of a play there' because judging by his reaction when the ball left Sidney's hands, that's not at all the look he was hoping for down four with 48 seconds left in overtime.  

 

Fox was elated Sidney, a 290-pound center took that look against a zone after being unable to stop him from getting 10 points and 12 rebounds near the low block. 

 

"I'm not sure you can (match up with his size)," Fox said. "We don't have a guy on our team that could stop him. Every time he caught it deep all he did was turn and lay it in. We couldn't stop it." 

 

On the defensive end, Jalen Steele nearly completed an unbelieveable effort to get a jump ball or steal in the backcourt down two late in overtime but once Georgia passed the time line MSU wanted to play out the shot clock and get a stop. Five seconds later Steele fouled putting Georgia guard Gerald Robinson Jr., on the foul line to the disgust of Stansbury. The MSU coach stopped his foot and yelled 'now....why!' the second Steele committed the foul. Clearly the direction was to try for the steal but if they get it across halfcourt to play for a stop and try for the final shot to win or tie the game. Steele's aggressive defensive play went overboard at that moment and the message was not received by the sophomore guard.  

 

The reason for this being brought to the table is it's easy to make the connection between Stansbury's timeout and the result being incoherent coaching. In this case, it's clear the players didn't do what their coaching staff was telling them to do. 

 

 

 

- What we heard?  

 

 

 

Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury:  

 

"We played Thursday night and we left everything physically and emotionally on the court. We had an early game today and we just were not able to turn it around." 

 

 

 

Georgia coach Mark Fox:  

 

"We beat a terrific basketball team, a team we had great respect for before we came here. So to leave here with a win, it's very gratifying." 

 

 

 

Mississippi State junior forward Arnett Moultrie:  

 

"No explanation. I wasn't feeling any different (than any other game this season)." 

 

 

 

 

 

What's next?: 

 

Dec. 31 at Pete Maravich Center vs. LSU (8 p.m., ESPNU) 

 

 

 

All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.

 

 

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