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SMITH COLUMN: Moultrie does his job well for Bulldogs

January 15, 2012

Arnett Moultrie smiles about MSU's victory over Alabama Saturday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Arnett Moultrie was pretty much an unknown at Mississippi State prior to this season.

After 18 games, he has introduced himself pretty nicely to the Bulldogs and the college basketball world.
The crowd of 8,730 at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon got a good look at what Moultrie could do on the court.

Moultrie, a transfer from the University of Texas-El Paso, was instrumental in MSU's 56-52 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide with 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.

With his latest double-double, Moultrie tied Kentucky's Anthony Davis for the lead in the Southeastern Conference this season.

Moultrie's motor seems to be running constantly and it's easy to see why he gets double-doubles with ease.

In 34 minutes, which tied for the second-most for the Bulldogs in the game, Moultrie made 10-of-14 shots from the field, 5-of-7 from the free-throw line, seven offensive rebounds and six defensive boards. That's a pretty good day's work.

"Arnett was terrific," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "We got it in there to him and he went to war for us."

Stansbury also pointed out that Moultrie did very well defensively against Alabama's Tony Mitchell, who
only had eight points. Mitchell averaged 14.9 points per game coming in.

"Don't let that go unnoticed," Stansbury said of Moultrie's defense on Mitchell.

Moultrie is the first Bulldog since Charles Rhodes in 2007-08 to register two games of 25 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in the same season.

From 4:34 remaining in the first half to 17:45 left in the second half, Moultrie scored 14-straight points for MSU.

He got his 10th rebound with 14:13 left in the second half. He went back up with the board, got fouled and converted a pair of free throws.

After the Alabama game, Moultrie was disappointed that he only secured four rebounds in Thursday's 62-58 win over Tennessee and wanted to do better.

"I wanted to come out and have an aggressive rebounding game," Moultrie said.

Moultrie seems to save his best outings for Humphrey Coliseum as he has achieved double-digit points in eight of the nine home games he has played in this season. He has six double-doubles during that stretch.

A few years back, Mississippi State had another player that could score and rebound like this in Lawrence Roberts. Roberts just happened to be a transfer from Baylor, a school in Texas.

What a coincidence.

Moultrie's performance came in front of another pretty good former player in Erick Dampier, who helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA Final Four in 1996.

Dampier was honored prior to tipoff, then watched as MSU captured a thrilling decision. He likes the squad Stansbury has put together this season.

"They definitely have the talent," Dampier said. "It's not really how you start, it's how you finish. There have been some references with this team to the '96 team and I think it's two totally different teams. They have the talent and they are willing to work at it every day and do the job defensively on the floor, they can go anywhere they want."

Dampier was definitely a major force for the Bulldogs in 1996 and without him, probably wouldn't have made the Final Four.

It's unclear where Mississippi State would be right now without Moultrie, but you can bet the record wouldn't be 15-3.

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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