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SMITH COLUMN: Bulldogs must learn to start basketball games better

November 9, 2011

It will be hard for the Mississippi State Bulldogs to be competitive this basketball season if the players who were honored on the preseason coaches All-Southeastern Conference team are not involved in the offense.
In the first half of Wednesday 68-58 loss to the Akron Zips, Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost were not doing very much to help MSU.
Sidney scored six points on two baskets, while Bost only had one field goal, a 3-pointer, and a pair of free throws for five points.
That's simply not good enough for the Bulldogs.
MSU shot only 33 percent (9-of-27) in the first half and 14 percent (1-of-7) from 3-point range to fall behind 37-29 at the half. It couldn't have been a good look in front of the ESPN cameras.
The Bulldogs need to get off to better starts in games.
"From the get-go, we were not in control of the game ever," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "We just seem to be a step slow all night."
At one point of the second half, the foul difference was 18-6 in favor of the Bulldogs and they were still behind on the scoreboard. In this case, home cooking from the officials couldn't even help. That really hurt MSU late in the game because it wasn't in the bonus and couldn't put Akron on the free-throw line in hopes of getting back into the game.
Arnett Moultrie, who only had eight points for the Bulldogs, couldn't convert under the basket in the final minute which sent the fans to the exits.
"You never fault his effort," Stansbury said about his forward. "He didn't miss on purpose."
Stansbury gave Akron credit for being a good team, but understands his team had problems.
Mississippi State now has a 3-7 record against the Mid American Conference and has not beaten Akron in two attempts.
Quincy Diggs led the Zips with 19 points and sure didn't appear to be intimidated by coming into an SEC arena.
"It always feels good to beat a team like this when you are a mid-major," Diggs said.
Akron has every reason to be happy, but the Bulldogs are left going back to the drawing board.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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