Bulldogs pull away from Wildcats

STARKVILLE, Miss. - All-SEC center forward Jarvis Varnado swatted 4 shots to become the Southeastern Conference's all-time leading shot-blocker as Mississippi State (2-1) cruised to a 67-51 victory against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Saturday evening in Humphrey Coliseum.
Varnado surpassed Shaquille O'Neal's previous SEC record of 412 and now has batted 413 shots in his career. The all-star senior also recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in the season's first three games and the 17th of his career.
Three other Bulldogs also scored 10 points, including senior Barry Stewart, who also handed out 4 assists. Sophomore Romero Osby contributed 7 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while freshman Wendell Lewis put up season-highs in both points (6) and rebounds (5).
"It is very obvious that when we lost Phil Turner the first half, we were totally out of synch," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "In the second half, we were better. Obviously, Phil brought some energy, but I thought we all got out and defended a little better. You can't have those moments like we had in the first half."
Junior center Albert Abrahams registered the game's other double-double for the Wildcats, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The first half saw several lead changes before two Osby free throws sparked a 10-0 MSU run. The Bulldogs led 31-24 at the half.
State saw BCU quickly close the gap to just 33-30 in the second half's first four minutes, and responded with an 8-0 run capped by a Varnado layup that put the game out of reach for good. Varnado brought down the SEC's all-time career blocks record with a reject of an Abrahams jumper with 10:20 remaining in the second half.
MSU outrebounded its opponent for the second-straight game, besting BCU 37-32 on the boards, and held the Wildcats to 34.6 percent shooting - the lowest for a Bulldog foe this season.
Mississippi State returns to action Tuesday by hosting Texas Pan-American at 7 p.m.