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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