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Stallings’ First Win In Starkville Leaves Stansbury On The Verge Of Trouble

There is no better tournament coach in the SEC than Rick Stansbury.  Year-in, year-out, Stansbury always seems to get the most out of his Bulldogs come tourney time. 

It’s the months leading up to the SEC Tournament that cause problems.

Last night in Starkville, Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings got his first win ever at  Mississippi State 81-74.  The win keeps Vandy in the race for the overall SEC championship.  The loss effectively slams the door on MSU’s hopes for an NCAA at-large bid.

The game was — in case you didn’t watch it — excellent from start to finish, featuring 16 lead changes.  State trailed the 19th-ranked Commodores by only three before a turnover and a Jeffery Taylor dunk salted the game away with 15 seconds remaining.

For Stallings and the ‘Dores, it’s onward and upward.  For Stansbury and State, fan unrest will only grow worse.  The Bulldogs are 10-9 overall and just 2-3 in the SEC. 

The preseason West Division favorites — by far — State was expected to jell once Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost returned from their NCAA suspensions.  But the team hasn’t.  Desperately needing wins over SEC East foes with good RPI rankings, the Dogs have lost back-to-back games at Georgia (by 22) and at home to Vanderbilt.  Florida comes to town tomorrow.  Who knows how hard MSU’s players will fight… or how many State fans will be in the arena?

Stansbury went all-in when he signed NCAA pariah Renardo Sidney in 2010.  So far that move has been a bust.  The player sat out all of last season as well as the first nine games of this season.  Upon his return he immediately drew an MSU suspension for insubordination and then got into a fight with teammate Elgin Bailey.  Bailey eventually left the program.

For all the trouble he’s meant for State, Sidney scored six points, grabbed five rebounds and fouled out of last night’s game.  Asked about his play, Stansbury said: “Sid was no factor in the game.  All I remember was him checking in and out.”

And now State fans will begin to wonder if their coach of 13 years is about to be checked out, too.


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