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February 24, 2010

Varnado, Stewart break records in win

STARKVILLE, Miss., - It was a night when records fell at Humphrey Coliseum.

Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado became the NCAA's all-time shot blocker and teammate Barry Stewart topped the school's all-time 3-point chart but perhaps most importantly both records were broken in a win.

The Bulldogs remained atop the Southeastern Conference Western Division taking down Alabama 74-66 in front of 8,477 witnesses of history.

"The records they broke tonight were amazing feats in themselves, both of them," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "Barry Stewart has done something that no other player in the history of Mississippi State has done and that's an amazing feat. For Jarvis to do something that no other player in the history of basketball has done is even more unbelievable."

Varnado entered the contest needing seven blocks to tie former Louisiana-Monroe standout Wojciech Myrda's record set from 1998-2002. The 6-foot-9 senior tied the record with 10:41 to go in the second half and stood alone with 536 career swats when he batted away Mikhail Torrance floater with just over four minutes to play.

"I just got on a hot spell," Varnado said. "You know how shooters get on a hot streak? I got on a hot streak blocking shots. Every time they came to the hole I just went and got it."

Varnado not only blocked eight shots against the Crimson Tide, he also added a double-double performance with 17 points and 10 boards as well.

Stewart's record-breaking trey also came in the second second in-between Varnado's big blocks. Stewart dropped back behind the line and buried his 259th career basket behind the arc surpassing Daryl Wilson.

"When it finally went down it felt good," Stewart said. "When it went down the crowd got into it and it was a key point in the game."

Stewart finished the night with nine points for MSU.

The Bulldogs shot 46.4-percent on the evening led by Dee Bost. Bost scored a team-high 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting and drained three of his four attempts from downtown.

Ravern Johnson added 12 points in 29 minutes off the bench while Kodi Augustus contributed 11 points as State improved to 20-8 on the year and 8-5 in league play.

The Bulldogs were able to survive a first half barrage by Torrance, who made his first six shots of the evening and scored 15 points by intermission. Mississippi State still managed to take a slim 31-29 lead into the locker room.

"We felt like we were fortunate to be down two at the half," said Alabama head coach Anthony Grant. "(Mississippi State) had some looks that they didn't make and that they are capable of making. JaMychal Green played only two minutes in the first half and we had opportunities to be down so we felt fortunate."

The Tide continued to battle in the second half until MSU was able to pull away late on a trio of 3-point baskets, two by Bost and another by Johnson.

"(Bost's first 3-pointer) was a heck of a make," Grant said. "The shot clock was winding down and who knows what would have happened if that shot doesn't fall. But give him credit because he knocked that one down and then came back a possession later and made another deep one with the shot clock winding down then Johnson hits a deep one in the corner in the same situation. Those were three daggers from the 3-point line."

The Crimson Tide finished the game shooting 42.6-percent led by Torrance's 23-point effort. Torrance shot 8-of-12 including three treys.

"I though Mikhail came out very aggressive," Grant said. "The thing we talked about was to be in attack-mode. I think he came out in attack-mode today and was able to get some opportunities through the screening action."

Senario Hillman added 13 points and Green finished with 12 points despite getting into early foul trouble and only playing 16 minutes. Chris Hines led Alabama on the glass with 10 rebounds.

The Crimson Tide have now dropped six of their last seven games and fall to 4-9 in the SEC and 14-13 overall.

Mississippi State will now travel to South Carolina on Saturday to square off against the Gamecocks at 5 p.m. on ESPN.


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