North Texas-Mississippi St. Preview
Mississippi State has rebounded nicely from its only loss and
now has a chance for its best start in eight seasons.
If Rodney Hood can continue his red-hot shooting, the No. 24
Bulldogs might not have a problem accomplishing that goal or adding
to their burgeoning win streak Sunday against visiting North
Mississippi State suffered a 68-58 home defeat to Akron on Nov.
9 but has bounced back with five consecutive victories, including a
76-50 rout of Tennessee-Martin on Friday.
Mississippi State (6-1) shot a season-high 59.3 percent in that
win and 68.0 percent in the second half. Hood and Dee Bost each
finished with 17 points, and Hood went 8 of 9 from the field.
The freshman guard is already among the conference leaders with
a 57.4 shooting percentage, and he’s made 17 of 22 attempts over
the past two games (77.3 percent).
“Rodney Hood has one of the best mid-range games there is,”
coach Rick Stansbury said. “He can shoot it off the bounce. He can
shoot if off the catch. He can back in and jump up over the top of
you. The game never speeds him up. The adjustments he has made over
these last two games is great.”
If they can get more help from DeVille Smith and Wendell Lewis,
the Bulldogs might have a good chance for their best start since
winning 13 in a row to open the 2003-04 campaign.
Smith scored a career-high 15 points off the bench in Friday’s
game, and Lewis had his first career double-double with 11 points
and 11 rebounds. Their play helped Mississippi State overcome
injuries to SEC rebounding leader Arnett Moultrie (tendinitis in
both knees) and Renardo Sidney (sprained left hand).
The status of both players is unknown for the Bulldogs’ first
meeting with the Mean Green (1-2).
North Texas has yet to beat a Division I team, beating only NAIA
opponent St. Gregory’s on Nov. 11. It was blown out 97-64 in its
most recent game at Texas-Arlington on Nov. 22.
Freshman guard Chris Jones, averaging a team-best 18.3 points,
followed up his 31-point performance at Texas Tech on Nov. 16 with
20 against the Mavericks.
Fellow freshman guard Jordan Williams, the only other Mean Green
player averaging in double figures (13.0 ppg), added a season-high
17 points. One other teammate had more than four points, and North
Texas finished with 39.6 percent shooting.
If the Bulldogs can top the Mean Green, Stansbury will move into
ninth place all-time among SEC coaches with his 279th victory.