(Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Dee Bost now has 167 steals in his Mississippi State career.
The 167th was a pretty important one on Thursday night.
Bost stole a pass with 6 seconds and converted a slam dunk on the other end to help the Bulldogs preserve a 62-58 win over the Tennessee Volunteers in the Southeastern Conference home opener.
Tennessee inbounded the basketball in the frontcourt with 11 seconds remaining down by two when Bost took the ball from Trea Golden, the hottest Vol on the floor, and capped the scoring with his dunk with 4 seconds remaining.
â€śYouâ€™re never going to fault his effort,â€ť said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury.Â â€śHe made a huge, huge play there.â€ť
The game opened in a very physical style of play with both teams not able to pull away from the other, until late in the first half when the Bulldogs closed the half on a 15-4 run, taking a halftime lead of nine at 36-27.
State pushed the halftime lead out to 12 early in the second half as it remained hot coming out of the locker room.Â However, the comfortable lead was short lived as the Vols chipped away at the lead until they got within two with ball possession.
â€śThey kept their poise and fought back,â€ť said Stansbury. â€śI thought Golden was a guy who got them back in the game with some 3â€™s. He was knocking down those 3s and had 20 (points). (Jeronne) Maymon on the inside was a load for us in the second half.â€ť
However, the Bulldogs were able to hold on thanks in large part to the play of sophomore forward, Wendell Lewis. He had a career night defensively when his team needed him the most turning in a career-high five blocked shots to go with five rebounds.
â€śI think that was the difference in the game tonight because I think we had seven blocks in the second half,â€ť said Stansbury. â€śWe had one in transition in the second half that saved a big two-point basket.â€ť
Fellow big man Arnett Moultrie agreed.
â€śWe really needed Wendell (Lewis) tonight,â€ť said Moultrie who joined Bost and Renardo Sidney with a game-high 13 points. â€śHe showed why we need him with his blocks and rebounds.â€ť
For the evening, the Bulldogs were out-rebounded for the third time this season as the Volunteers were plus-7 at 35-28.
Mississippi State, which improved to 14-3 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, will have a quick turnaround for their next opponent Alabama. The Crimson Tide will enter Hump for a 3 p.m. tip on Saturday.
Tennessee saw its records slip to 8-8 overall and 1-1 in the league.
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