Night Line: Mississippi State Shows Its Upside in NYC

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. 

For the past two seasons, Mississippi State has been a team that’s warranted strong preseason buzz but never lived up to expectations. After a home loss to Akron in its second game this season, it looked like the same old story for these Bulldogs. But just one week later, the outlook of Rick Stansbury’s team has completely changed.

What's Reasonable to Expect From These Bulldogs? (JCL/F. Franklin)

On Friday night, Mississippi State defeated No. 16 Arizona in Madison Square Garden to be crowned champions of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, one night after it knocked off-No. 18 Texas A&M in the semifinals. MSU used a balanced offensive attack in which eight different players all converted at least two field goals to control this game from the outset. Its depth and talent were on display all night, as veteran leaders Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie played well and were joined by impressive young reserves Wendell Lewis and Deville Smith. In limited minutes, Moultrie dominated inside to the tune of 19 points and ten rebounds on 8-10 shooting, while senior lead guard Dee Bost racked up eight points, six boards, and five assists.

Watching tonight’s game just makes you wonder how the Bulldogs lost at home to Akron last week. Perhaps we should just accept that this, again, is who Mississippi State is — talented enough to beat ranked teams on back-to-back nights, but undisciplined enough to lose at home to a team from the MAC. MSU’s ability to bounce back from the early upset and improve immediately to win two games over good teams with excellent coaches should leave a real impression on the rest of the SEC and, perhaps, the entire country. The Bulldogs could be ranked in the new Top 25 come Monday, and the buzz will be building again. This team goes eight deep with a combination of experience and youth, and a good mix of size inside and speed on the perimeter.

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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Mississippi State

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

Each week around these parts we’re going to pick one big game involving a Pac-12 team and provide a preview of the game. Last week we took a look at Oregon traveling to Vanderbilt, today we’ll look at a real dog vs. cat matchup as Arizona faces Mississippi State in the final of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament this evening in New York City.

The Bulldogs (3-1) got to this championship game by racing out to a big 22-point lead in the first ten minutes of Thursday night’s semifinal game against Texas A&M, then hanging on from there to post a nine-point win. MSU hit five three-pointers during the opening ten minutes and made 11 of their first 15 shots from the field, then cooled off considerably, hitting just one of seven three-point attempts in the final 30 minutes of the game and only 28.2% of their field goals over that span. Of those two extremes of shooting, the final 30 minutes probably more accurately reflects MSU’s shooting ability, as the best three-point bombers from last year’s MSU club have graduated. Senior point guard Dee Bost is the Bulldogs’ most important player, team leader and leading scorer (18 PPG), but the real strength of the team lies along their frontline with 6’11” center Arnett Moultrie, much-maligned and underachieving 6’10” power forward Renardo Sidney, and 6’9” reserve big man Wendell Lewis.  The Wildcats will need their veteran forwards Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill, along with freshmen bigs Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol, to put in a full night’s work on the glass to keep Arizona in touch.

Dee Bost, Mississippi State

Dee Bost Is The Engine That Makes The Mississippi State Offense Go

While the Wildcats are off to a 4-0 start, they’ve yet to really gel. They needed a big 23-6 in the final seven minutes of their semifinal game with St. John’s to advance, and they’ve struggled to not only replace last year’s two leading scorers, but to fold four freshmen into the mix. Offensively, the Wildcats have been decent, with multiple players chipping in on a nightly basis to provide balanced scoring, but things still remain unsettled. Five players (Kyle Fogg, Hill, Perry, Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes) have averaged double figure scoring thus far, but this team is still a work in progress, albeit with much upside. Junior wing Kevin Parrom just returned from a gunshot wound suffered in September and has yet to get back to 100%; freshman point guard Josiah Turner is getting slightly more comfortable game by game, but he is still too wild to be completely trusted; and the freshman frontcourt duo of Johnson and Chol has shown some serious flashes but not yet the ability to produce on a consistent basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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