No. 24 Mississippi St. 76, UT-Martin 50
Wendell Lewis was grabbing rebounds and throwing down dunks.
DeVille Smith was dishing no-look passes and draining open
The two are usually role players for No. 24 Mississippi State,
but both made the most of extra opportunities as the Bulldogs
easily defeated Tennessee-Martin 76-50 on Friday night at Humphrey
The Bulldogs never trailed, receiving contributions from all
over the roster. Dee Bost and Rodney Hood led the team with 17
points each, but Smith scored a career-high 15 points on 7-of-10
shooting from the field, while Lewis had his first career
double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said both Lewis and Smith
would be important to any future success this season – singling out
Lewis’ play as particularly vital.
”It doesn’t matter if he starts or not, he’s going to play a
lot of minutes,” Stansbury said. ”And his productivity in those
minutes is going to be the difference in us winning or losing a lot
of basketball games.”
Mississippi State (6-1) played without starting forwards Renardo
Sidney and Arnett Moultrie for the second straight game. A team
spokesman says Sidney has a sprained left hand, while Moultrie is
battling tendinitis in both knees.
The Bulldogs shot 59.3 percent (32 of 54) from the field –
including 68 percent in the second half – and outrebounded
”We’ve had to play a lot of different lineups the past few
games and I think that’s really going to help us down the line,”
Stansbury said. ”We were really efficient offensively in the
second half, shooting 68, 69 percent, and we didn’t turn it over.
For the most part, we played hard.”
Dane Smith scored 17 points for Tennessee-Martin (1-5) and Myles
Taylor added 12. The Skyhawks had 16 turnovers.
Mississippi State led 35-24 at halftime and used an 18-9 run to
start the second half to put the game away.
”It wasn’t anything they did – it was us,” Smith said. ”We
didn’t contain the ball and guys were able to get in the lane. They
were kicking out to open shooters and that was the ballgame.”
Bost and Hood have been productive all season, but the
contribution from Smith and Lewis bodes well as conference play
Sidney and Moultrie combine to average about 23 points and 15
rebounds, and Lewis helped make up for their absence. The 6-foot-9
junior from Selma, Ala., came into the game averaging 4.5 points
and 5 rebounds per game.
Stansbury has been impressed with Lewis’ ability since he
arrived on campus over two years ago, but occasionally exasperated
by his laid-back demeanor. Though he’s still not exactly an
enforcer, Lewis has grown more assertive in the paint, and is one
of the team’s most important backups when the roster is at full
”I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” Lewis said.
”I try to have fun and do whatever the team needs for us to win.
… I’ve had a mindset when I get into games that I’m trying to
score. Going hard.”
Smith missed the first game of the season because of unexplained
headaches and dizziness, but after his health was cleared, he’s
slowly become a more important part of the Bulldogs’ roster. The
5-foot-11 point guard also added three assists and two steals in 26
Smith’s best quality is a devastating first step off the
dribble, but Stansbury said it can get him in trouble.
”He’s pretty hard to guard on that first ball screen
sometimes,” Stansbury said. ”That’s good and bad because he
thinks he can do it every time. But he’s getting better. He’s not
forcing things as much.”
Mississippi State has been rolling since a surprising 68-58 home
loss to Akron in the second game of the season. Wins over Arizona
and Texas A&M in the 2K Classic last week propelled the
Bulldogs into the national rankings, and the team still has four
games remaining in a six-game homestand that continues Sunday
against North Texas.
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