March 17, 2010

Bulldogs advance past Jackson State

STARKVILLE, Miss., - Mississippi State's opening round NIT battle was as much about picking themselves back up as it was defeating Jackson State.

The Bulldogs were playing their fourth game in five days and were coming off the heels of a disappointing one point overtime loss to Kentucky in the SEC Championship game and a NCAA selection snub.

But Rick Stansbury was able to rally the troops enough to dispose of the Tigers 81-67 in front of 4,433 fans at Humphrey Coliseum Tuesday night.

"I'm proud of our basketball team not just because we won the game but because of the way we responded," Stansbury said. "They had every reason to come out tonight and have an excuse if they wanted one but they didn't. It's our fourth game in our fifth day, everybody knows what we were coming out of and for the most part I thought our focus, our readiness and our togetherness was very good."

Jackson State head coach Tevester Anderson believes that the Bulldogs should have had an opportunity to participate in the Big Dance as well.

"They are a good basketball team," Anderson said. "They should be playing in the NCAA Tournament. I've said that from the beginning and I'll say it again, they should be one of the top 64 teams in the country competing for the national championship in the NCAAs. Unfortunately they didn't get a few breaks here and there and are in the NIT and have an excellent chance of perhaps winning the NIT."

MSU started the game justifiably sluggish but found a bit of a rhythm in the second half to improve to 24-11 on the year. The Bulldogs finished the night shooting 40.7-percent and also added 12 steals.

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