MSU hits 100-point mark in win
MSU's Arnett Moultrie (23) goes up for a shot against Troy on Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
By LEE ADAMS
The 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs were spreading the fun around the basketball court on Saturday.
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The Bulldogs picked up their ninth consecutive win as all five of their starters score in double digits on the way to a 106-68 dominating win over Troy.
The blowout win, which is the first 100-plus point game for MSU since December of 2009, was a surprise since Troy came in leading the country in 3-pointers made.
"Anytime you lead the country in 3-point shooting, you're a dangerous team and they'll beat a lot of people because of their ability to make 3-point shots," said State coach Rick Stansbury. "But I thought our guys did a terrific job of guarding that 3-point shot. We took away their strength.
"We didn't go into this game thinking it was going to be like this. We really thought it could become a knock down drag out game."Â
The Bulldogs improved their overall record to 9-1, while the Trojans slipped to 4-4.
MSU senior guard Dee Bost, who is 19 assist shy of breaking the school's record, knew what the Trojans were capable of so they prepared accordingly.
"They tend to hit a lot of 3's so we focused on that in practice," said Bost. "We made sure they couldn't get a lot of clean looks and made sure they were contested."
While taking away that strength, the Bulldogs hit 16 3-pointers, which ties a school record, and Bost had seven of them.
Bost's seven 3-pointers is just shy of the individual record at MSU, but he did finish with a season-high and team-leading 28 points.
Bost had only five first half points, but the Bulldogs didn't need much more from Bost as Arnett Moultrie and Jalen Steele put up 12 each in the first frame.
Moultrie finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year, but Steele was the surprise as he put up 15 points and hit five 3-pointers.
The reason Steele's game was a surprise is because he had some struggles earlier this season.
"It's good to see him get his confidence back," said Stansbury. "I think that's three games in a row he's kind of zeroed in. Right now when it leaves his hands, you believe it's going in and you expect it to go in."
The reason Steele has found his shot is because of some extra work.
"I stay after practice a lot and get some shots up," said Steele. "Sometimes I come before practice and get some shots up with coach, so it's been working out for me and I've been in a groove."
Steele also has been taking on a starting role with Brian Bryant sitting out due to a suspension, which has made Steele work even harder.
"I'm more focused especially moving up the starting spot," said Steele. "I know that I need to come in and contribute to the team."
Renardo Sidney and Rodney Hood also added some big numbers in the Bulldogs win as Sidney had 18 points and Hood put up 12. Sidney seemed to get winded quickly as MSU were running and gunning, but Stansbury thinks his team can be a half-court team as well.
"I think we're not near as good as we got to become, but with the balance on this team, we can become efficient either way," said Stansbury. "I think we have enough size that in a half-court game we can be efficient, and I think we have enough versatility at guard to be efficient at running that ball. I think one of our greatest abilities is our versatility."
Even though they didn't show much of that versatility as it wasn't necessary, the Bulldogs did have balance across the board.
"It was a good balance, we hurt them inside and we hurt them outside," said Stansbury. "Naturally we had size on them and you have to be aware of that size. When you're aware of that size and the ball doesn't go in some, it opens up some 3-point shots."
The Trojans had cut the lead to only six points in the first half, but after some big dunks and 3-pointers, momentum shifted to the Bulldogs and it stayed there the remainder of the game.
"There were two good things about that game, the first 10 minutes of the second half and that it's over," said Troy head coach Don Maestri. "It was really impressive watching Mississippi State with all the different talent that they have and how they are mixing it together. Bost is an NBA player and they have size and wing guys who I thought were good."
The Bulldogs next opponent will come from the same conference as the Trojans as they host Florida Atlantic on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
"I don't know much about them but I know they beat us last year," said Stansbury. "They have four of their five starters back, so they are going to be a much bigger task than this was."Â