NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dee Bost makes a backdoor cut, Renardo Sidney feeds the pass and the Mississippi State Bulldogs take the lead for good on a Bost layup.
That series enabled MSU to defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores 78-77 in overtime.
The No. 18 Bulldogs mounted a monumental comeback as it took them just 2:16 in the opening moments of the second half to erase an 11-point halftime deficit and turn it into an 18-2 run that pushed the State lead to five before the first media timeout.
The Bulldogs made their first seven 3-point attempts of the second half including four from Jalen Steele who was in his words, ‘feeling it.’
“I just knew we needed buckets,” said Steele who added 15 points, 12 points in the second half. “In the beginning of the game, I was just feeling it. The coaches told me to just go out there and shoot it. I kept my confidence and just kept shooting.”
Bost, who scored a game-high 24 including the game winning bucket on a play the Bulldogs hadn’t run all year.
“Coach designed that play in the huddle, we hadn’t ran it all year,” said Bost. “He designed it because they had a taller guy guarding me and Sid (Sidney) set it up perfectly and after the backdoor I had a wide open layup.”
The layup gave State the one-point advantage, but it far from secured the win.
State had to make a defensive stand to hold off the Commodores after both Bost and Arnett Moultrie missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation.
“That’s up to me and Arnett, we're supposed to make those free throws,” said Bost. “We missed them but we knew we had to suck it up and play hard defense.”
Their defense stood tall on back-to-back trips down the floor leading to a John Jenkins shot at the buzzer that was off the mark, preserving the MSU victory.
“It was our ability to defend that won the game for us,” said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. “I thought our guys took on the challenge. We were pretty good defensively, we played hard.”
The Bulldogs lost Sidney to early foul trouble less than 2 minutes into the game.
From that point, they played virtually a man short, but somehow managed to stay in the game.
“We weren’t down too many points,” said Steele. “We didn’t look at it as a big margin. We knew that we were going to come back and make this a tough game for Vanderbilt and that’s what we did.”
With Sidney on the floor in the second half, the Bulldogs went to work taking the game to the Commodores before they closed with a 10-point run including a 3-point basket from Jenkins to tie the game at 68-68 sending the contest into overtime.
“What was tough was, we had this game in regulation, but give Vanderbilt credit, they jumped up and made two huge 3s,” said Stansbury. “We came into that timeout having the game won and now having to figure out how to go play five more minutes. That’s not easy to do.”
In the overtime period, Moultrie carried the Bulldogs by design.
“I thought we went to war with Arnett in overtime,” Stansbury said. “We really wanted to get him the ball.”
Moultrie scored five of State’s nine points in overtime as part of his 21 for the evening. He also picked up 14 rebounds to give him his 11th double-double of the season.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 27 of 62 shots from the field (43.5 percent), 10 of 20 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 14 of 21 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Commodores hit 29 of 60 shots from the field (48.3 percent), 14 of 27 shots from 3-point range (51.9 percent) and 5 of 9 shots from the foul line (55.6 percent).
Vanderbilt received 21 points from Jenkins, 19 points from Jeffery Taylor, 12 points from Festus Ezeli and 12 points from Lance Goulbourne.
State will host LSU at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Humphrey Coliseum.