Saturday, January 30, 2010

Game 45 - LSU @ Mississippi State - Jan. 30, 2010

Game - LSU @ Mississippi State - Saturday, January 30, 2010

Line - Mississippi State - 12

Result - Mississippi State wins 67-51, covering the spread

Mississippi State was a 12 point gametime favorite in their home match-up with the LSU Tigers, and they got off to a great start, blocking shots and playing suffocating D for the first 5 minutes of the game. But with a 12 point spread against a team, LSU, that REALLY struggles to score points and really works to keep the game close (and MSU works to control tempo as well), it might be difficult for the Bulldogs to cover a double digit spread. There just weren't going to be very many points scored in the game, no matter who wins or by how much.

Swallow Your Whistle When Things Are Going Your Way

For the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game, while the Bulldogs built a 7-2 lead, the officiating crew of Tony Greene, Ron Groover, and Pat Adams did not make a single call. NOT A SINGLE CALL! If there has ever been a case of swallowing the whistle, this was it.

And LSU just couldn't put the ball in the basket. It wasn't until Mississippi State built a 10-2 lead nearly halfway through the first half that LSU scored its FIRST field goal! Uninterrupted by the officials, Mississippi State just slowly built its lead against the anemic Tiger offense, and when the Bulldogs took a 17-4 lead with just under 8 minutes to go in the first half, the 12 point spread was covered.

An LSU run cut the 14-point Bulldog lead to only 7 with just over a minute to go in the half, and the Tigers clearly had the momentum. With LSU moving the ball up the court, Tony Greene stepped in with a rarely-seen 10-second call as the Tiger ballhandler crossed half-court, and the subsequent basketbhelped the Bulldogs take an 8 point lead into the locker room at half time, covering 2/3 of the 12 point spread.

If The Team You Are Helping Has More Physical Players, Swallow Your Whistle

The first part of the second half was dominated by Mississippi State's Jarvis Vanardo, the all-time SEC leader in blocks. He came out of the locker room with such effort and physicality that the Bulldogs quickly extended their 8 point halftime lead to 13, even getting away with a "chicken wing" that the officials, of course, ignored, but that the SEC Network's Dave Baker pointed out.

If You Need Something To Change, Set A Tone Early In The Second Half By Changing The Officiating Style From The First Half

Yet even after this run, LSU, now sporting a line-up primarily made up of walk-on players, began hitting a few shots and wasn't allowing the Bulldogs, who were playing pretty well at this point, to pull away. So the game began to be called much more tightly, with Tony Greene stepping in with a hand-check call on LSU, then another couple of fouls called on the Tigers. Making their free throws, MSU capitalized on this change in the officiating style and pulled out to a 16 point lead just 5 minutes into the second half. A couple of additional ticky-tack fouls on LSU, and suddenly the Bulldogs were IN THE BONUS less than seven minutes into the second half. Remember, in the entire first half, the officials didn't call this many calls on LSU.

Continued good free throw shooting by MSU offset some sudden good shooting by the LSU walk-ons, and the Bulldogs were able to maintain a 13 point lead with about 8 minutes to go.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth scoring, the Bulldog lead stood at 13 with 4 minutes to play, almost exactly at the 12-point spread. While the outcome of the game was not likely in doubt, the outcome of the spread definitely was. Exactly the situation an official "on the take" might like, and in which he might thrive.

The Charge/Block Call - It Can Go Either Way, So Make Sure It Goes Your Way

Make The Big Call At The End

After a MSU bucket pushed its lead to 15, Tony Greene stepped in to call an offensive foul on an LSU ballhandler as he extended his off-ball arm during a drive through the lane. Although Joe Dean, Jr., criticized the call by saying it's "a little but of an NBA rule," he and Dave Baker both take up for Tony Greene by saying "you can't do that right in front of the official." MSU quickly extended its lead to 18.

A meaningless basket by LSU at the buzzer cut the margin to 67-51, but Mississippi State won easily and covered the 12-point spread.

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