Varnado blocks 10 shots, rejects UK’s bid for 2nd straight win

Patrick Patterson, meet Jarvis Varnado.

On a night that pitted one of the nation’s top young scorers (Patterson) and its top shot-blocker (Varnado), Mississippi State swatted UK back to Lexington with a 69-64 loss yesterday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.

Varnado, who entered the game averaging more than five blocks per game, blocked 10 shots for the second straight game and held Patterson to just 10 points and 3 rebounds.

Varnado added 10 points and 12 rebounds to earn just the third triple-double in Mississippi State history.

But Patterson wasn’t the only frustrated UK player in Starkville. Playing against the nation’s top scoring defense, the Cats shot just 39 percent from the field, despite a hot start from the Cats that might have suggested otherwise.

UK started 5-for-7 from the field in the first six minutes but shot just 18-for-46 the rest of the way.

MSU took a 10-point lead into the final two minutes of the first half when guards Jamont Gordon and Phil Turner hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but senior guard Joe Crawford scored the final five points of the half, and the Cats went to the locker room down 32-27.

MSU quickly stretched the lead as wide as 11 points early in the second half, but the same two seniors that led the Cats to a victory over Vanderbilt Saturday willed UK back into the game yet again.

With Patterson struggling, Crawford and fellow senior guard Ramel Bradley took over the UK offense, cutting the deficit to just five, 54-49, with 6:43 to play.

Bradley scored 22 points, making him the first UK player since Jamal Mashburn to score at least 20 points in five straight games. Crawford added 20 points.

UK fell behind by seven points late, but Crawford’s 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left cut the lead to 66-64.

But MSU, which made just 17-of-32 free throws, was able to ice the game from the free-throw line, sending UK back to Lexington with its seventh loss in the last 10 games.