February 12, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Jarvis Varnado had a career night Wednesday for the Mississippi State men''s basketball team.
It was nothing compared to what Tasmin Mitchell did for LSU.
Varnado scored a career-high 31 points, but Mitchell had a career-high 41 to lead the Tigers to a 97-94 victory in double overtime in front of a crowd of 9,021 at Humphrey Coliseum.
"We knew coming into the game it was going to be tough," Mitchell said. "We know hands down that Mississippi State is a great team."
With the victory, the Tigers (20-4, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) gained a foothold in the Western Division race by sweeping the season series from MSU (16-8, 6-3).
Despite dominating MSU 81-57 in Baton Rouge earlier this season, LSU coach Trent Johnson knew it would be a different story in Starkville.
"There was nothing easy out there," Johnson said. "We have a lot of respect for Mississippi State."
Even though three other players scored in double figures for the Tigers, Mitchell was the difference. He was 12 of 25 from the floor, making both of his shots from 3-point range. He also hit 15 of 18 free throws.
Only two outings in the SEC -- Kentucky''s Jodie Meeks'' 54-point effort against Tennessee and 46-point outburst against Appalachian State -- have been better than Mitchell''s this season.
"Nothing surprises me with him," Johnson said of Mitchell. "He''s a hard matchup anywhere on the floor."
MSU coach Rick Stansbury repeated the same words to describe what Mitchell did to his squad.
"Killed us. Killed us. Killed us. Killed us," Stansbury said. "He made huge plays consistently for them. We''re outmatched there physically a lot. He finished some plays and it got easier for him to finish once we lost Jarvis."
Varnado fouled out with 3 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first overtime. He was one of seven players to foul out in the 50-minute game, the Bulldogs'' first double overtime game since Jan. 24, 1998, against Ole Miss.
A Varnado free throw tied the game at 72 at the end of regulation. Barry Stewart drove the lane to score for MSU to force a tie at 82 and another overtime, but Mitchell made the game-winning play in the second overtime.
After MSU point guard Dee Bost hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 52 seconds remaining, Mitchell scored in the paint, was fouled, and hit his free throw to put LSU up 96-93 with 38 seconds left.
"He went through us," Stansbury said. "Give him credit. He made some tough shots. He doesn''t go over you. He just goes through you."
LSU''s Alex Farrer and MSU''s Romero Osby traded free throws to give the Bulldogs a chance, but Phil Turner missed a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining.
Stansbury didn''t find fault with his team after the game, except for the fact it didn''t take advantage of some opportunities.
"I don''t know what you can ask more of our team," Stansbury said. "We didn''t win it, but it sure wasn''t because of a lack of effort."
Bost had 20 points and Stewart added 10, leaving him one point shy of 1,000 points for his career.
MSU will look to bounce back Saturday at Auburn.
1. Columbus boys beat Callaway HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Piper realizes life-long dream in athletics at MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
3. SEC women's basketball squads off to strong starts COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bell, Bulldogs ready for Egg Bowl battle COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Starkville High ready for North State championship game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS