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.