No. 18 Mississippi St. 82, Northwestern St. 67

DeVille Smith weaved through some defenders midway through the

second half and then looked up toward the basket to survey his

options. Sure enough, Arnett Moultrie was cruising toward the

hoop.

It wasn’t surprising. The big man had been around the basket all

game.

Smith lofted a pass toward the 6-foot-11 Moultrie, who jumped

and slammed home the alley-oop with two hands. It was another easy

bucket for Moultrie and No. 18 Mississippi State as the Bulldogs

coasted to an 82-67 victory Thursday night at the Mississippi

Coliseum.

Mississippi State (12-1) has won 11 straight games. Moultrie

finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh

double-double of the season. Eleven of his 14 rebounds were on the

offensive glass.

”I think it had to do with me being 6-foot-11 and very

athletic,” Moultrie said. ”It’s kind of hard for people to box

out. Even when they do, I’ve got the quickness to get around

them.”

Moultrie led a productive night for the Bulldogs’ big men.

Wendell Lewis scored a career-high 14 points off the bench, while

Renardo Sidney added nine points and four rebounds in the first

half before sitting out the rest of the game because of a strained

patella tendon in his left knee.

Rodney Hood added 11 points and six rebounds.

But Moultrie was the standout. He shot 8 of 11 from the field

and 8 of 8 from the free throw line.

The Bulldogs won easily despite an off night from most of the

guards. Dee Bost, the team’s leading scorer with 18 points per

game, managed just eight on 3-of-14 shooting.

Mississippi State jumped out to a 30-11 lead by midway through

the first half, feasting on easy baskets at point-blank range.

Sidney had a particularly violent one-handed tomahawk that

highlighted the team’s 26 points in the paint during the first

half. The Bulldogs took a 41-27 lead into halftime.

The 6-foot-10 Sidney was playing one of his better games this

season during the first half, with nine points and four rebounds in

11 minutes. But he didn’t play in the second half because of the

knee injury, sitting on the bench with a bag of ice on his left

leg.

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said he didn’t think

Sidney’s injury was serious, but wouldn’t be certain until he was

evaluated by the team’s medical staff.

Without Sidney, Mississippi State struggled to open the second

half. Northwestern State (7-6) went on a 12-4 run to close the gap

to 45-39 just minutes into the second half.

”The team got off to a big lead and just kind of coasted,”

Stansbury said. ”We had our bags packed for the holidays and

that’s where their mind was at that point.”

But the Bulldogs responded with an 11-1 run of their own to put

the game out of reach, capped by Lewis’ dunk on a fast break that

pushed Mississippi State’s lead to 56-40. Moultrie also had a few

baskets during the rally, with several offensive rebounds that

extended possessions.

”The one shot you can’t defend in basketball is the offensive

rebound and Arnett Moultrie just killed us with those,”

Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. ”He really took the

steam out of that rally we had because he just kept extending their

possessions.”

Mississippi State outrebounded Northwestern State 44-34 and

scored 52 points in the paint. The Bulldogs also had 24

second-chance points.

Shamir Davis led the Demons with 15 points. Louis Ellis scored

13 and Gary Stewart added 12 off the bench.

Mississippi State gets nearly a week off before facing No. 6

Baylor on Wednesday in Dallas.

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