BASKETBALL BULLDOGS HOLD OFF TENNESSEE
Miss. – Playing back in the friendly confines of the Humphrey Coliseum,
the Mississippi State men’s basketball team returned to the win column.
20th-ranked Bulldogs held off a late Tennessee rally to edge the
Volunteers 62-58 in a physical, rugged Southeastern Conference matchup
played before a crowd of 8,148 and a national television audience
“Our defense didn’t make the trip across the Mississippi River for the
Arkansas game (a 98-88 loss last Saturday),” MSU head coach Rick
Stansbury said. “No team had scored more than 75 points on us all year
long, so I didn’t panic coming into this game. Tonight’s effort was
(14-3 overall, 1-1 SEC) led by as many as 12 points but could not shake
Tennessee (8-8, 1-1) in a contest, which was actually decided on the
game’s final possession.
11 seconds left, the Volunteers held the ball down two points. On the
inbounds pass, Dee Bost made a steal at midcourt and raced to the other
end with a high-flying dunk to close out the victory.
finished the contest with four steals, giving him 168 for his Maroon
and White career. This career total is third all-time as Bost squeezed
past Chuck Evans during Thursday night’s win.
“I was trying to put as much pressure as I could in those final
seconds,” Bost said. “I knew he (Trae Golden) was going to take the
shot. I was able to make the play. It was frustrating in those final
seconds, but I can carry it over to the next game and stay positive.”
a 3-point basket by Renaldo Woolridge brought UT within those two
points, Bost also had a turnover with Skyler McBee making a steal. Bost
redeemed himself quickly with the game-clincher.
has been struggling on offense lately,” Stansbury said. “But you can
never fault his effort. I think late in the game his effort made a huge
play for us.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin thought the game turned in the final couple of minutes of the first half.
“The stretch they had there to end the half was really huge,” Martin
said. “It was a great basketball game between two physical teams. They
made more plays than us right there to end the half. That turned out to
be a critical stretch of the game.”
22-21, the Bulldogs ended the first half with a 15-5 run. The run was
sparked by tenacious Bulldog defense, including blocked shots by
Wendell Lewis and Arnett Moultrie. The Volunteers had four straight
misses from the field, including a missed dunk attempt and a missed
dunk by Moultrie placed the Bulldogs on top 25-22 and a Rodney Hood
baseline jumper stretched the lead. After a 3-pointer by UT’s Jordan
McRae, the Bulldogs responded with a layup by Moultrie and a steal and
fast-break lay-up by Bost.
“I wanted to get myself going and find my rhythm,” Moultrie said.
“Tonight we shared the ball and it showed on the scoreboard. I was glad
we were able to stop their momentum tonight.”
Bulldogs led 36-27 at halftime. MSU opened each half with a Jalen
Steele 3-pointer. Steele started the second half with a trey, moving
the lead to a game-best 12 points – at 39-27.
to balanced scoring by Renardo Sidney, Moultrie and Bost, the Bulldogs
kept a healthy lead most of the second half, before Tennessee scored
five straight points to close within four with 7:31 remaining.
lead was pushed back to six at 59-53 on a Bost 3-pointer with 3:13
remaining. Still, UT would rally again, as a dunk by Kenny Hall and
Woolridge’s 3-pointer put the guests back on the doorstep.
“I want to give Tennessee credit for keeping their poise and fighting
back,” Stansbury said. “We stepped up and made the plays when we had
to, and got to the foul line where we knocked down our shots.”
the contest, the Bulldogs hit 22 of 50 shots from the field (44.0
percent), 5 of 16 shots from 3-point range (31.3 percent) and 13 of 17
shots from the foul line (76.5 percent). The Volunteers hit 23 of 54
shots from the field (42.6 percent), 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range
(50.0 percent) and 5 of 7 shots from the foul line (71.4 percent).
held a 35-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 12 assists and nine
turnovers, while the Volunteers had nine assists and 14 turnovers.
Golden led all scorers with 20 points.
Bost and Moultrie had 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs. Bost had five
assists but made six turnovers. Sidney had a game-high seven rebounds.
Lewis matched a career high with five blocked shots, while Moultrie set
a new career high with four blocked shots. DeVille Smith also matched a
season high with five assists and also had no turnovers in 19 minutes
off the bench.
Bulldogs host Alabama at 3 p.m. Saturday. That contest will be
televised regionally by the SEC Network. MSU returns to the road
Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip at arch-rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs and
Rebels will play regionally on Comcast Sports Southeast from the Tad
Smith Coliseum in Oxford.