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2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Basketball Preview
Last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-11 overall, 12-4 SEC) finished first in their division and then in the NCAA Tournament defeated Oregon 76-69 and, in round two, lost to Memphis 77-74. In the past five seasons, the Bulldogs have made it to the Big Dance three times and the NIT once. This season, coach Rick Stansbury will guide a team comprised primarily of sophomores and freshmen.
Junior forward/center Jarvis Varnado (28.5 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 64.1 FG%, 50.0 FT%) can score, rebound and play defense. He will be an essential part of this year’s Mississippi State team. Last year, he had a national-best best 4.6 BPG. Varnado is a force with which to be reckoned. Three players—Kodi Augustus (4.7 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 38.5 FG%, 57.1 FT%), Elgin Bailey (6.8 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 47.5 FG%, 39.0 FT%) and Brian Johnson (9.6 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.2 APG, 62.5 FG%, 77.3 FT%)—all return to provide depth and experience in the paint.
Junior guard Barry Stewart (35.7 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 38.3 FG%, 69.6 FT%) is a hardnosed player and but he must refine his shooting skills to be a major contributor. Sophomore guards Phil Turner (16.6 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 33.1 FG%, 55.6 FT%), Ravern Johnson (6.4 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 47.7 FG%, 40.0 FT%) and Riley Benock (8.1 MPG, 1.8 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 40.5 FG%, 62.5 FT%), all of whom saw action last season, will be asked to step up this year.
The 2008-2009 season looks to be disappointing for the Bulldogs.
A fifth or sixth-place finish seems likely. There’s certainly
talent on board but not a lot of experience. State has taken the
division for two straight seasons but a third division crown is
very unlikely. The Bulldogs have lost a lot of talent, including
the output of guard Jamont Gordon and his 17.2 PPG and guard Ben
Hansbrough and his 10.5 PPG. The NIT looks to be in their future.
2008-09 NCAA Basketball Previews
Here are the 6 major conferences as well as a mid major preview for the 2008 season.