Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Friday’s College Basketball Recap: North Carolina outlasts Duke, Ayton stars and the drama continues at Memphis

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How good is Deandre Ayton?

The 7-foot-1 freshman put up 32 points and 14 rebounds as Arizona defeated UCLA, 78-67 in overtime. He made 13 of 16 shots and 5 of 6 from the line while also posting three assists and a pair of blocks and steals each.

Simply, he was dominant. And that’s something we need to talk more about.

There will be debates in draft rooms across the NBA about who to take No. 1, but Ayton continues to make his case that it should be a short conversation. Luka Doncic could very well be awesome, Marvin Bagley III is great and Michael Porter, Jr. is intriguing, but Ayton has put up huge numbers night in and night out for a team embroiled in chaos more often than not.

He was great again. And he’s the player of the day.


  • JORDAN DAVIS, Northern Colorado: Who cares what his numbers were. He did this. If you don’t click that link, you’re depriving yourself of one of life’s greatest gifts.
  • KYRON CARTWRIGHT, Providence: Had 15 points, six assists and drew a charge that might have cost Xavier its No. 1 seed.
  • LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: The senior had 17 points, 10 rebounds , four assists and three steals as the Tar Heels survived a late run by rival Duke to win a spot in the ACC title game.
  • MAKOL MAWIEN, Kansas State: The Wildcats lost to Kansas, but not because of Mawien, who had 29 points on 13 of 19 shooting.

BUBBLE BANTER: Everything that happened on the cut-line


Remember when Alabama lost five-straight to finish the year and entered the SEC tournament on the bubble? After Collin Sexton’s heroics Thursday and domination Friday, that seems like an awfully long time ago.

The Crimson Tide got 31 points and seven boards from Sexton and defeated rival Auburn, 81-63, to not only strengthen their NCAA tournament team, but to suddenly have a look of a team that should have top seeds running scared.

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of days in March can make.


There are plenty of candidates for this one given what a wildly entertaining day Friday was, but let’s give it to a game that was decidedly uncompetitive.

San Diego State 90, No. 22 Nevada 73. Final.

The Aztecs led by as many as 30 and just ran roughshod over a really good Wolf Pack team. All five SDSU starters scored in double figures and they shot 51.9 percent as a team. Now they’ve got a shot to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

That’s good news for the Mountain West, which instantly just became a multi-bid league, but it’s really bad news for the teams hovering around the cut line.


Tubby Smith’s lawyer accused Penny Hardaway of sabotage.

Yeah, you read that right. the Memphis coach’s long-time attorney threw a pretty big allegation in Hardaway’s direction, positing that the potential Smith replacement and the leader of grassroots powerhouse Team Penny has been steering high-level Memphis kids away from their hometown team.

It’s quite the accusation, but it’s also kind of a self-own. Smith’s lawyer is essentially admitting that Memphis would maybe, probably, potentially be getting Memphis kids – highly-ranked Memphis kids – if Hardaway took over the program. Even if there is something underhanded going on – and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence right now there is – telling the world your guy is essentially getting out-recruited by the favored replacement isn’t exactly a winning strategy. Especially on a day that Memphis was, ya know, actually winning.


Bruce Pearl got mad.

The federal investigation into college basketball has been awfully quiet – aside from leaks detailing ASM Sports’ business plan – but the feds apparently aren’t done digging. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Friday that NC State has been served with a subpoena seeking documents.

Virginia remains a total buzzsaw.

Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon suffered what looked to be a very scary injury when a Tennessee player inadvertently stepped on his head. The school later announced that the freshman, whose brother is a junior on the team, was awake and had feeling throughout his body.

Fox leads No. 5 Kentucky over Mississippi State 88-81

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Malik Monk, Kentucky’s leading scorer, was struggling and so was star guard Isaiah Briscoe. So when the Wildcats needed some clutch baskets late, coach John Calipari turned to freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox and gave him some simple instructions.

“We just said, `Here you go De’Aaron, go and do your thing,”‘ Calipari said.

Fox responded with two clutch baskets on drives to the basket in the final minutes to thwart a final Mississippi State rally and lead the fifth-ranked Wildcats over the Bulldogs 88-81 on Tuesday night.

Fox finished with 21 points while Monk had 14. Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis both scored 13 points and Briscoe added 12.

“A lot of teams have a go-to person, but we don’t have that right now,” Fox said. “So whoever has the hot hand that game is the one that does it.”

Kentucky (16-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) looked like it would cruise to the win after building a 66-49 lead midway through the second half, but Mississippi State responded with 13 straight points to make things interesting down the stretch.

Calipari said he was frustrated with his team’s inattention to detail. He was especially irritated when Monk got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk on an alley-oop pass.

“We go into the AAU mode when we’re playing all freshmen and sophomores,” Calipari said. “There’s a point in the game where they just think `OK, watch this.’

“You’re never going to be that team if that’s what your mindset is.”

In the end, the Wildcats were too potent offensively. The 6-foot-3 Fox was especially impressive, shooting 8 of 15 from the field and adding five rebounds and five assists.

Kentucky also got plenty of production from its forwards. Willis scored all 13 of his points in the first half, stepping out to make three 3-pointers. Gabriel was 5 of 5 from the field, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.

Mississippi State (12-5, 3-2) was led by freshman Lamar Peters, who scored a career-high 25 points. Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 15 points and Mario Kegler added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Mississippi State shot 32 of 59 (54.2 percent) from the field. The Bulldogs were hurt by 19 turnovers.

“You can’t knock Kentucky – they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Peters said. “But when you look at the talent on our team, I feel like we’re one of the best teams in the country, too. We can hang with anybody. And it’s frustrating because we knew we could have won that game.”

It was an emotional game that featured four technical fouls – two on each team.


Kentucky: The Wildcats continue to put up big numbers on offense, scoring at least 87 points for the sixth straight game. Monk, who leads the team at nearly 22 points per game, wasn’t at his best on Tuesday, but his teammates were more than capable of picking up the slack.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were able to hang with one of the nation’s best teams for most of the game, but an inability to stop Kentucky on the defensive end proved costly.


Mississippi State announced a crowd of 9,768, which was its largest of the season. The traffic was so bad before the game outside Humphrey Coliseum that the Bulldogs’ pep band barely made it to their seats on time because its bus was stuck on the road.


Kentucky: The Wildcats return home to face No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to face Tennessee on Saturday.


More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .

Video: Mississippi State falls to ETSU on last-second tip-in

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Mississippi State welcomed a Southern Conference program into their building Wednesday night and took an ‘L.’

The Bulldogs lost to East Tennessee State, 67-65, when the Buccaneers’ Hanner Mosquera-Perea tipped in the game-winning bucket with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Steve Forbes’ ETSU squad now sits 8-2 with a win over an SEC team and losses only against UNC-Wilmington and Dayton on the season with a matchup against Tennessee still on the schedule for next week ahead of league play.

The story here, though, may be Ben Howland’s Bulldogs suffering a loss to the likes of ETSU, at home no less. Mississippi State already lost in Starkville to Lehigh this season and Central Florida on a neutral. They’ve fallen well outside the KenPom top-100.

It’s still early, but at this point it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see MSU scrapping with Missouri to stay out of the bottom of the SEC.

Mississippi State freshman loses NCAA appeal

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Mississippi State freshman Abdul Ado will be ineligible to play this season after his appeal was denied by the NCAA, the school announced Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing for Abdul,” Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said, according to the Clarion-Ledger. “It’s disappointing for our team and our players.”

The 6-foot-11 center from Nigeria will be allowed to practice with Mississippi State at the end of the first semester if he completed nine credits. He won’t, however, be eligible to compete until the 2017-18 season, when he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

“There are good things ahead for Abdul and this program,” Howland said. “I’m excited about that. I’m disappointed it’s not going to be this year.”

Ado was a consensus top-150 player in the 2016 class.

Mississippi State opened the season with a 78-74 win over Norfolk State last week. The Bulldogs will participate in the Charleston Classic this week, starting with a matchup Thursday against Central Florida.

Mississippi State’s Newman declaring for NBA draft

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Mississippi State freshman Malik Newman will enter his name in the NBA draft, but does not plan to immediately hire an agent, he announced Monday.

“I’m still leaving the option open that if I don’t hear the news that I would like to hear, I will be attending Mississippi State again,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.

That unwelcome news would be a second-round draft grade after Newman makes the rounds with workouts and potentially the draft combine. He’s currently projected as a second-rounder by DraftExpress.com.

Newman, a former McDonald’s All-American, averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 39.1 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent from 3-point range during a freshman season that largely didn’t play out to expectations as Mississippi went 14-17.

He played in 29 of the Bulldogs’ 31 games, with turf toe one among a number of nagging injuries he dealt with throughout the year.

While the Bulldogs would certainly like to see Newman back in the fold next year, if he should decide to stay in the draft past the May 25th deadline, Ben Howland won’t be without reinforcements. His incoming 2016 class has more than enough firepower with six recruits signed, four of which are top-100 talents. Mississippi State also a nice core of I.J. Ready and Quandary Weatherspoon in place to help Howland’s large and highly-touted class acclimate, whether or not Newman leaves Starkville.

Mississippi State lands another four-star 2016 prospect

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Mississippi State continues to be one of the big stories in recruiting the Class of 2016 as Ben Howland and the Bulldogs landed four-star big man Abdulhakim Ado on Monday night, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The addition of the 6-foot-10 Ado means that Howland has overhauled the Mississippi State roster very quickly as Ado becomes the sixth four-star prospect to commit to the Bulldogs in the 2016 class. Regarded as the No. 73 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Ado is a defensive specialist and one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the national class. While Howland was quick to add a lot of talented guards early in his 2016 pursuits, adding Ado and fellow four-star big man Schnider Herard the last few weeks helps stabilize the future front court for Mississippi State.

Ado and Herard are joined by four-star wing Mario Kegler, as well as four-star guards Tyson Carter, Lamar Peters and Eli Wright. Howland and his staff have put together a no-brainer top-10 national recruiting class during his first full season of recruiting at the SEC program and this class certainly sends notice that Howland is still a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.