By DANNY P. SMITH
It was all about finishing on Wednesday night for Mississippi State sophomore forward Wendell Lewis.
Lewis contributed eight points off the bench, two off a career high, and was active in the post for the Bulldogs during the 67-56 Southeastern Conference victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Whether it was scoring on offense or rebounding on defense, Lewis believed he came in and did his part. He was just glad he could help the winning effort for MSU.
It was just a matter of the Selma, Ala., native taking what he does in practice every day onto the court.
"In practice, I'm being more consistent, finishing more and taking my time while I'm down there in the post," Lewis said. "I've been working on it lately in practice and I took it into the game (Wednesday). I scored, finished and did pretty well."
Along with his scoring, Lewis pulled down six rebounds, had a blocked shot and a steal in 15 minutes for the Bulldogs.
MSU coach Rick Stansbury liked what Lewis gave to the team against the Razorbacks.
"Wendell has been good in spurts this year, but there are times when we would like for him to be more aggressive," Stansbury said. "(Wednesday) night, he was huge for us, finished some shots around the rim and blocked a shot or two. That's what we need for him to do every game."
With MSU down 21-18 in the first half to Arkansas, Lewis had a tip-in with 6:25 remaining and then threw down a dunk off an assist from Dee Bost to give the Bulldogs a 22-21 lead with 5:18 left.
"He's probably one of the most athletic bigs in the conference," Bost said of Lewis. "He's just got to go out there and play with heart. Sometimes I don't feel like he plays with enough heart and he'll be soft. (Wednesday), he played great and give him credit. If he can do that every game, it will be big for us."
Lewis gave Mississippi State the advantage for good with a layup at the 17:02 mark of the second half. The Bulldogs extended the margin to 41-36 with 16:23 left in the game on another Lewis dunk.
The biggest lift Lewis gave MSU in the second half was a rest to Sidney, who suffered some sort of knee injury and had to leave the game briefly.
"I don't know what happened to his knee, but I came in and did what I had to do to give him a little break until he was ready to go," Lewis said.
Lewis was a part of the Bulldog bench that out-scored the Arkansas reserves 21-20. Bryan Bryant chipped in nine points off MSU's bench.
"What we got from Bryan Bryant and Wendell was huge," Stansbury said.
Bryant was able to help Bost save his legs for the final stretch of the game by taking the point guard duties and sliding the junior co-captain over to the shooting guard position.
"All week long in practice I've been telling Brian 'this is your time to step up, this is your time to shine," Bost said.
Bryant, who was not only 3-for-4 from the field but made his first three-pointer since Dec. 22 against Washington State in Hawaii. The junior-college transfer was given his most minutes on the floor (20) against the Razorbacks since Christmas Day and the most in Southeastern Conference play.