Hawaii beats MSU 68-57 in 1st game since fight
HONOLULU (AP)—Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury had no excuses for either the loss or the conduct of his players.
Zane Johnson had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead Hawaii over short-handed Mississippi State 68-57 in the fifth-place game of the Diamond Head Classic on Saturday, the first game for the Bulldogs since they suspended two players for fighting in the stands.
The Rainbow Warriors (9-3) controlled the inside and the game with Bulldogs’ top big men Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey suspended indefinitely.
Sidney and Elgin were involved in a fistfight after the Bulldogs’ game Thursday night. The altercation, captured by cameras, lasted for several minutes before being broken up by teammates and coaches
“That’s well documented, you all have seen and heard enough from the last two days, but we’re not going to make any excuses for that,” Stansbury said. “We’ll move on. You all got my statements and you all have heard what we’ve done at this point. We’re going to leave it at that and move on here.”
With Bailey and Sidney out, Kodi Augustus and Wendell Lewis were the tallest players for the Bulldogs at 6-foot-8. Augustus had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Mississippi State (8-5), which shot 27 from the field and was outrebounded 41-36 by the small, finesse team.
Hawaii outscored Mississippi State 30-12 in the paint.
“As a basketball player, you can’t make excuses for the loss of players, you just have to keep playing basketball and move forward,” Augustus said. “For the team, it’s been rough, but at the same time, we’ve got to put it behind us and move forward.”
Hiram Thompson added 15 points on 2 of 10 shooting from the field and 10 of 10 from the stripe for Hawaii. Vander Joaquim scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Bailey and Sidney were suspended indefinitely and sent home early from Hawaii. Both players have issued an apology.
“I want to apologize to Mississippi State, to the people in Hawaii and to the fans that were in the stands that witnessed everything,” Bailey said. “Due to me being a captain, I should have handled the situation in a much different way. It should have never gotten to the point that it did. I really am sorry that all of this happened, especially with it unfolding on TV like it did.”
Sidney said, “I apologize for embarrassing my family, all the Mississippi State fans, my teammates and coaches. I will learn from this and move on.”
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement that the “athletic staff, coaches and student-athletes have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that brings credit and honor to our university.”
“The actions that took place Thursday night in Hawaii were embarrassing to all of us who love Mississippi State University and our athletic program. This behavior will not be tolerated,” he said.
Sidney, a 6-foot-10 sophomore who was one of the most highly-recruited players of the 2009 class, has averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games this season. Bailey, a 6-foot-8 junior, has started 10 out of 11 games and is averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.
It’s the latest in a string of issues for Sidney. The NCAA ruled last March he had to repay $11,800 in improper benefits and sit out the remainder of the 2010 season and nine more games this season.
As for Saturday’s game, Trevor Wiseman’s lay-in gave the Rainbow Warriors a 53-31 lead with 15 minutes left. But 3s by Augustus, Ravern Johnson and Jalen Steele during an 11-2 run cut the lead to 14 with 12:10 left. Steele finished with 14 points.
The Bulldogs didn’t get on the scoreboard until 5 1/2 minutes into the game on Steele’s 3 from the top of the key. With Mississippi State having trouble getting started and missing its first six shot from the field and two free throws, Hawaii went on a 12-0 run to open the game.
Stansbury said the absence of his two post players on the game was “obvious.”
“If you watched us play the second game here, (against) San Diego, we were able to get a lot of baskets around the hole,” he said. “We didn’t get a lot of baskets around the hole today. So again, you’ve got to find works to make it work … we’re not going to make no excuses.”
The Rainbow Warriors closed the half with four free throws by Thompson to take a 42-23 halftime lead.
Jeremiah Ostrowski, who caught two passes for 72 yards for Hawaii in its 62-35 drubbing to Tulsa in Friday night’s Hawaii Bowl, played two minutes in his first action for the basketball team.
Ostrowski recently joined the Rainbow Warriors after two guards left the team.
The Bulldogs travel to Las Vegas to face St. Mary’s on Wednesday. Sidney and Bailey will not be with the team. Mississippi State opens SEC play on Jan. 8 at home against Alabama, which is the earliest the players could return.
“But I’ll make a decision on that as we go forward here,” Stansbury said. “We’ll get back and keep evaluating things and see where things are. I’ll continue to find out things about the situation that happened … so we’ll just keep evaluating and see where we’re at with all this.”