Mississippi State 71, Virginia Tech 65
by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 12/30/04

New Orleans, VA - #21 Mississippi State rallied behind a dominating performance from All-American power forward Lawrence Roberts to narrowly defeat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic in New Orleans on Thursday night, 71-65. Roberts, last year’s SEC Player of the Year and the favorite to win the award again this year, scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. He was one rebound shy of posting his second consecutive 20 point, 20 rebound game.

Virginia Tech (6-5, 0-1) was led in scoring by senior guard/forward Carlos Dixon. Dixon, who entered the game averaging 14.1 points per game, scored 19 points on 7-14 shooting. He was also 3-7 from 3-point range. Dixon grabbed 4 rebounds and had 4 steals. Besides Dixon, the Hokies also had three other players to score in double figures. Sophomore forward/center Coleman Collins played his best game of the year, scoring 16 points on 7-11 shooting. Collins had surgery to remove a cyst from his foot on December 11 and looked healthier than he has all season long.

Sophomore guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon added 10 points apiece for Tech. Going into the game, Dowdell was hitting 42.6% of his shots from 3-point range, and he added to that number against the Bulldogs (12-2) by hitting both of his attempts from downtown. Dowdell also added 4 assists and 4 steals. Gordon had 4 steals as well for the Hokies.

Things didn’t look good early for Tech, as the Bulldogs’ defense took a big bite out of the Hokie offense. The first Tech field goal didn’t come until the 12:18 mark in the first half when Coleman Collins scored on an open layup attempt. The Hokies missed their first 12 field goal attempts of the game. Collins provided a great spark off the bench for Tech, and scored the first 5 points for the Hokies to get them back in the game.

Despite the slow start, the Hokies eventually found their shot and gradually clawed their way back into the game. Tech also clamped down defensively on the Bulldogs, getting their hands in the passing lanes and forcing turnovers. For the game the Hokies had 14 steals and forced 16 turnovers, while committing only 10 turnovers themselves. A 16-5 run in the first half got Tech back into the game, and Zabian Dowdell nailed a 3-pointer from NBA range to put Tech up 30-29 with 5 seconds remaining before the break. Mississippi State missed a desperation heave at the buzzer and Tech led by one going into the intermission.

The second half was also nip and tuck, and eventually the Bulldogs (12-2) were able to take advantage of their superior size on the inside. Mississippi State had frontcourt players who stood 7’ and 7’2", not to mention Lawrence Roberts who checks in at 6’9" and weighs 240. As a result, they were able to dominate the glass, out-rebounding Tech 49-29, with a total of 19 offensive rebounds.

Despite the rebound margin, the Hokies played the Bulldogs tight down to the wire. The difference in the game was the production of Mississippi State at the free throw line. For the game, the Bulldogs were 25-37 from the charity stripe. The Hokies managed only 11 trips to the line, making 5 of those. The referees whistled the Hokies for twice as many fouls (22) as Mississippi State (11).

The Hokies return to action on Saturday, January 8 when they travel to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm, and the game will not be televised.


MISSISSIPPI ST (71)

                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
L Roberts           38  9-19  7-14  8-19   1   2   25
S Power             34   1-7   2-2   0-2   2   1    5
M Campbell          20   4-5   4-6   4-9   1   2   12
G Ervin             38   3-9   3-5   1-2   6   1    9
W Frazier           28   2-8   6-6   1-3   2   2   11
J Edmondson          3   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
D Slater             7   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   2    0
W Morgan             9   1-2   1-2   1-1   0   0    3
O Harper            21   2-7   2-2   2-6   2   1    6
P Stelmach           2   0-0   0-0   0-0   0   0    0
  
_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 22-57 25-37 17-42  14  11   71
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.386, FT-.676
3-Point Goals: 2-12, .167 (L Roberts 0-2, S Power 1-5, G 
Ervin 0-2, W Frazier 1-3).
Team Rebounds: 7. 
Blocked Shots: 4 (M Campbell 2, W Frazier 2).
Turnovers: 16 (G Ervin 5, M Campbell 3, L 
Roberts 3, W Frazier 2, O Harper, W Morgan, S Power).
Steals: 5 (L Roberts 2, G Ervin 2, P Stelmach).

VIRGINIA TECH (65)

                          fg    ft    rb             
                   min   m-a   m-a   o-t   a  pf   tp
D Washington        16   2-6   0-0   1-3   0   1    4
C Dixon             29  7-14   2-2   0-4   2   4   19
R Krabbendam         9   0-3   0-0   0-0   0   1    0
Z Dowdell           28  4-11   0-0   3-5   4   2   10
J Gordon            34   4-8   1-4   1-6   3   4   10
W Witherspoon       22   1-5   0-1   1-3   0   0    3
M Cooke              8   1-2   0-0   0-1   0   3    2
A Calloway          29   0-1   1-2   1-2   3   4    1
C Collins           25  7-11   1-2   1-2   0   3   16
  
_____________________________________________________
TOTALS             200 26-61  5-11  8-26  12  22   65
_____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.426, FT-.455.
3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (C Dixon 3-8, Z Dowdell 2-3, J 
Gordon 1-4, W Witherspoon 1-4, M Cooke 0-1, C Collins 1-1).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 8 (A Calloway 2, C Collins 2, W 
Witherspoon 2, C Dixon, D Washington).
Turnovers: 10 (Z Dowdell 3, J Gordon 3, C 
Dixon, W Witherspoon, A Calloway, C Collins).
Steals: 14 (C Dixon 4, Z Dowdell 4, J Gordon 
4, R Krabbendam, M Cooke).


-----------------------------------
MISSISSIPPI ST       30  41   -  71
VIRGINIA TECH        29  36   -  65
----------------------------------- 

Technical fouls: None. A: N/A. Officials: Gerald 
Boudreaux, Joe Lindsay, Tony Greene


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