Dec. 19, 2009
HOUSTON - In a game that went back and forth in the second half, Mississippi State took advantage of Barry Stewart's jumper and four free throws during the final 34 seconds on the way to a 70-64 win against the University of Houston men's basketball team Saturday afternoon inside Hofheinz Pavilion.
Mississippi State grabbed a 64-61 lead with 1:23 remaining when Ravern Johnson connected on his third and final 3-pointer. With 1:08 remaining, senior guard Aubrey Coleman was fouled driving to the basket and went to the foul line. After making his first free throw, the Houston native snared the offensive rebound following the miss on his second attempt and laid it in to tie the game at 64-64.
MSU forward Jarvis Varnado missed a layup with 43 seconds left but Stewart snared the offensive board. Following a Bulldog timeout, Stewart nailed a jumper that gave MSU the lead for good with only 34 seconds left in the game.
Coleman missed a jumper with 15 seconds to go, and Varnado - who went 7-of-17 from the charity stripe in the game - hit both free throws after grabbing the rebound and being fouled. Johnson then connected on two more attempts from the charity stripe with three seconds left for the final margin of victory.
Although they were outrebounded 59-39 and were limited to a season-low 31.2 percent from the field, the Cougars remained in the game by forcing 19 MSU turnovers and limiting their own giveaways to a season-low six turnovers. Houston entered Saturday's game as the nation's leader in fewest turnovers per game.
Playing in front of a season-best home crowd of 3,422 fans, the Cougars struggled early in the second half. Tied at 34-34 after Coleman's dunk with seconds remaining in the first half, MSU scored the second half's first nine points for a 43-34 advantage.
The Cougars pulled to within 43-42 on Coleman's layup with 14:22 remaining, but MSU scored the next six points for a 49-42 advantage. Houston then used an 14-3 run during the next 7:21 and built a 56-52 advantage when senior guard Kelvin Lewis connected on a 3-pointer at the 5:34 mark.
Following a Varnado free throw, Dee Bost tied the game at 56-56 with a 3-pointer with 4:34 to go. Bost handed the Bulldogs a 59-56 lead with 2:47 left, but junior guard Zamal Nixon tied the game again with his lone 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining.
Stewart buried a jumper with 1:50 remaining for a 61-59 MSU lead, but Coleman's layup tied the game at 61-61 with 1:40 left.
Coleman, who entered the game as the nation's leading scorer, lived up to that billing with a game-high 28 points. Playing all 40 minutes, he also added a team-high 12 rebounds for the 16th double-double of his career.
Lewis finished with 18 points, including a game-high four 3-pointers, and added four rebounds and a pair of steals. Sophomore point guard Desmond Wade dished out a game-high six assists with only one turnover and two steals in 33 minutes. It was the fifth straight game that the Linden, N.J., native recorded at least six assists.
Johnson and Bost led a balanced MSU scoring attack that saw four players reach double figures. Stewart posted 14 points, while Varnado added 13 points and game highs of 17 rebounds and five blocks. Kodi Augustus posted seven points and 16 rebounds in the win.
The Cougars continue their month-long homestand at the friendly confines of Hofheinz Pavilion when they play host to The Citadel at 7 p.m., Monday. It will be the fourth of six straight home games for the Cougars during the month of December.
The Cougars are 2-1 on the current stand.
Following their game against the Bulldogs, the Cougars play host to TCU (Dec. 23) and Louisiana Tech (Dec. 29).
Fans can purchase tickets on-line at UHCougars.com by clicking the Tickets link, by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Single-game tickets and a variety of packages also are available now and can be purchased for as low as $35.
* Senior guard Aubrey Coleman reached 20 points for the seventh time in eight games this season and the 16th time during his career.
* Coming off the bench, junior forward Kahmell Broughton posted a career-high six rebounds in only 18 minutes.
* Lewis competed in his 71st consecutive game and his 44th straight start... Both streaks are the longest among active Cougar players.