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Johnson keys exhibition win for MSU basketball team


From Special Reports



STARKVILLE -- Ravern Johnson''s 23 points sparked a convincing 82-54 win by the 18th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs against the Oklahoma City Stars on Saturday afternoon in the exhibition opener for both teams at Humphrey Coliseum. 


Johnson, a junior, drained 6-of-10 three-pointers, shot 8 of 15 from the floor and grabbed five rebounds. 


"I started out slow, but I knew eventually if I kept shooting they would fall," Johnson said. "Most of our shots today were wide-open shots, and we were very fortunate to not rush any." 


Three other Bulldogs scored in double digits, led by junior Kodi Augustus'' 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Sophomore Dee Bost joined senior Barry Stewart by scoring 11 points, while Bost added six assists. 


All-Southeastern Conference senior Jarvis Varnado grabbed 11 rebounds, notched eight points and blocked four shots. Freshman Wendell Lewis continued his impressive preseason performance by claiming eight rebounds in just 13 minutes. 


"Making baskets is a huge part of the game," said MSU coach Rick Stansbury. "When people talk about you, I want them to talk about you doing something other than making shots. You have to find a way to influcnce the game other than making three-point shots. That''s where all my focus is with (Johnson)." 


Oklahoma City point guard Chris Brown led the game with 24 points on 9-of-23 shooting, while shooting guard Corey Bingham added 11 on a 4-of-13 effort. 


The Bulldogs struggled with their opponents in the first half, but never trailed in the game. After scoring the first eight points, MSU saw two free-throws from Brown spark a 10-0 run that pulled the game within a point. At the break, MSU led 38-33 after a hotly-contested first half. 


Halftime refocused the Bulldogs, and they came out with a vengeance. After a quick three from Bingham, MSU surged to a 35-8 run and ultimately outscored its opponent 44-21 in the second half. 


Mississippi State dominated on both ends of the floor, shooting 46.3 percent from the field while holding the Stars to a 35.6 percent effort. MSU also hit 13 of its 30 treys while forcing Oklahoma City to shoot 25.0 percent from that range. The Bulldogs handed out 19 assists and registered 6 blocks. 


Though losing the rebounding battle 22-18 at the half, MSU hit the glass in the second half and finished the game with a 47-32 rebounding advantage. 


"We saw some things we haven''t worked on much," Stansbury said. "We haven''t worked much against zones at this point. Their guys are small and spread you out. In the second half, we changed some things and did what we wanted to against the zone." 


Mississippi State wraps up its exhibition slate against Georgetown (Ky.) on Saturday. Tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum is set for 2 p.m., and admission is free. 




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