March 14, 2012 3:19:35 AM
STARKVILLE -- What we learned?
The Mississippi State University men's basketball team was prepared for what turned out to be the season finale Tuesday night. The problem was the Bulldogs were properly prepared to do nothing but fail.
This is exactly what occurred in front of a less than sparse crowd during a 101-96 double-overtime defeat to the University of Massachusetts in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
MSU (21-12) players were going to their Twitter accounts saying they didn't want to participate in the NIT. In fact, the rule of thumb with the NIT is their are two types of schools that showcase themselves - those who want nothing to do with the tournament and those excited to still be playing basketball at any level.
MSU proved to be the team that wanted their 2011-12 season to come to a close.
"We were down (and) nobody wanted to play," MSU senior guard Dee Bost said. "We first heard we weren't in the NCAA we were down to play."
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog also learned from Bulldogs senior guard Brian Bryant that the MSU coaching staff failed to practice their team in a three-day period of time after Thursday night's loss in the first round of Southeastern Conference Tournament.
After his final collegiate basketball game, MSU guard Brian Bryant confirmed the team had not worked out together since the disappointing loss to the University of Georgia in New Orleans until Monday afternoon - less than 24 hours until the tip of their game against UMass.
"(Coaches) said they'd let us know Sunday what we would do," Bryant said. "We were just sitting around, waiting on the text message."
The lack of preparation was noticeable as less than two minutes into an NIT first round game as MSU found themselves down 6-0 before Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury stood up and called a timeout to regroup the squad. 31 seconds later, senior guard Bryant didn't value possession of the basketball and UMass point guard Chaz Williams was cruising the other way to make it 8-0.
"You could tell with people's minds weren't right in the beginning," Bryant said. "We didn't come to play and this was the result."
The 2011-12 season ended Tuesday night with a smattering of polite applause as the team entered the Humphrey Coliseum tunnel following the seventh loss in nine games for MSU in front of the worst attendance for a Bulldogs home game in the 14 years under Stansbury with an announced crowd of 2,507.
Against a team that was undersized and less athletic, MSU allowed the Minutemen to dominate points in the paint (54-40), second chance points (24-7) and be out rebounded 56-41 marking the biggest margin in that category this season.
"It was the little things," MSU freshman guard Rodney Hood said. "The little things off the court. Being disciplined in classroom, on the court.....I saw some stuff."
Tusday's win marked the first postseason victory for Kellogg in the four years since taking the job at his alma mater. UMass will travel to top-seeded Seton Hall for the second round of the NIT this weekend.
Sean Carter added a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Minutemen (23-11), while Javorn Farrell finished with 16 points, Terrell Vinson scored 12 and Raphiael Putney also posted a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
MSU junior forward Arnett Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points by making 12-of-23 field goals and pulling down six rebounds in 49 minutes. The 6-foot-11 forward, who has been critical of his teammates publicly in the last month, said he wasn't sure about his future with the program and will evaluate his options with the National Basketball Association draft in "the next few weeks."
"If I do come back it will be to play with (Rodney) Hood," Moultrie said leaving a shred of doubt in the postgame press conference.
With the loss, MSU is now 7-8 in NIT play and marks the fourth time in 11 postseason trips under Stansbury the Bulldogs have finished with one loss and out.
What we heard?
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury:
"It don't hit you till it's over. There's not going to be but one happy team, that's the team that wins the national championship, everybody else is going to have this feeling somewhere along the way."
UMass coach Derek Kellogg:
"Every time we threw a jab, they came back with one of their own."
Mississippi State senior guard Dee Bost:
"I just told (my teammates) to get ready for another year because it is going to come fast. Whenever they get back after it they need to bust their tail."
Mississippi State junior center Renardo Sidney (Twitter account):
""I'm out!! I'm not go respond so have a ball. I've heard it all."
Mississippi State freshman guard Rodney Hood:
""It was the little things. The little things off the court. Being disciplined in classroom, on the court.....I saw some stuff."
What's next?: 2012-13 season
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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