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Bulldogs' miscues lead to another loss


David Miller



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State''s men''s basketball team hopes the rest of its of five-games-in-five-days stretch goes nothing like its first.  


The Bulldogs were out-rebounded by 13 and gave up 15 offensive rebounds in a 63-62 loss to East Tennessee State on Saturday, marking the second-straight loss and second defeat by two points or less. 


The similarities between MSU''s 61-59 loss to Florida Atlantic on Nov. 30 disappointed head coach Rick Stansbury, who saw a missed block-out on a free throw in the last minute turn into extra points that ultimately seal the game for the second straight time. 


Saturday, the Bulldogs failed to secure a block-out on Justin Tubb''s missed free throw, and with 26.6 seconds left the Bucs (4-4) called a timeout and got a game-winning layup from Micah Williams.  


Trailing 63-62, the Bulldogs had a hair over 10 seconds left coming off a timeout. Guard Twany Beckham fed forward Kodi Augustus on the low block but the senior watched his point-blank layup draw iron. He drew contact from two ETSU players but didn''t get the ball he thought he should have.  


"I thought I was whacked, but they didn''t call it," Augustus said. "That was the look we were looking for. He said either get fouled or score. Neither happened." 


Both plays were preceded by Ravern Johnson''s turnover inside the one-minute mark. Johnson, who led all scorers with 23 points, was ripped of the ball from behind. The turnover was a low-light of MSU''s final eight minutes of the game, when they had just one field goal. The Bulldogs (4-2) went the final five minutes and 26 seconds without a field goal. 


For Stansbury, the turnover and missed block-out were like Deja Vu for a team with little margin for error.  


"We sure can''t beat ourselves with bad mental plays down the stretch, we just can''t do it," Stansbury said. "Again, you have to finish them mentally, not just physically.  


Ordinarily the precise 3-point shooting team, the Bulldogs were out-done by the Bucs, who made 8 of 16 from deep. 


ETSU guard Mike Smith led the way with 20 points and was 4 of 5 from behind the arc.  


"We struggled shooting the last few games, and guys were setting good screens for us today," Smith said. "Once we hit a few early, we had a little bit of confidence." 


MSU struggled defensively in the first half, giving up four dunks as the Bucs made 14 of 23 shots from the floor. ETSU was just as efficient from the 3-point line, where it hit 6 of 10 in the first half.  


MSU followed its trend of playing close ball games, leading by just three heading into the break. However, the margin could have been greater if the Bulldogs would have carried the momentum from an 8-2 run that pushed their lead to 27-21, and a 9-2 run that produced a 38-32 lead.  


The Bucs used a trio of 3-pointers to cut into both first-half deficits. 


Stansbury again went back to plays conceded in MSU''s loss to FAU, pointing out the similarities in how his team ended the first half. Against the Owls, MSU led 35-24 with close to a minute left before giving up a pair of free throws and an offensive rebound that led to a FAU 3-pointer. The Bulldogs gave up a layup to start the second half of that game, resulting in an 11-point led shrinking to four in just over a minute.  


"This one, you had time to go score so it could have been a five-point swing right before half," Stansbury said. "Those are momentum killers, and with our team again, there''s just no margin for error. One possession, one play is the difference with this bunch." 


Augustus had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Bailey was 4 of 6 for nine points.  


ETSU''s Williams had 18 points on 8 of 15 shooting.  


MSU turns around for the second of five games in five days when it hosts North Carolina A&T at 1 p.m. today.  


"It''s a quick turnaround," Augustus said. "As a basketball player, you got to have a short memory. The leadership comes from our captains and everybody on this team."



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