FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorback press and red-hot shooting proved to be too much for No. 15 Mississippi State Saturday night.
The Bulldogs went on the road and learned a valuable lesson – it is hard to win on the road in the Southeastern Conference, falling 98–88.
Dee Bost broke out of his recent slump playing well yet again inside Bud Walton Arena and freshman DeVille Smith added a career-high 25 points, but they were overshadowed by Arkansas (12-3, 1-0) junior Julysses Nobles who turned in a career-high 24 points and freshman B.J. Young had another outstanding night with 24 points of his own.
“You’ve got to give Arkansas a lot of credit (Saturday night)," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "They were awfully good."
“He got hot at the right time,” said Bost of Nobles effort, who was 15-of-52 from 3-point range entering the contest but was 4-of-7 against the Bulldogs (13-4, 0-1). “It doesn’t matter if he had been shooting well or not.”
The Hogs shot an astonishing 67.9 percent in the second half while scoring 55 point in the half, in part because of solid shooting and partly because of sub-par MSU defense.
“We just weren’t very good defensively,” said Stansbury. “We just couldn’t contain their dribble. They just beat us in so many different ways.”
State wasn’t much better offensively as the quick tempo of the Hogs forced the Bulldog big men, Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, into early foul trouble taking them completely out of their comfort zone.
“I think our presser really disrupted what they wanted to do,” said Young. “We didn’t let them walk it up the court and get it into their bigs like they like to. We didn’t let them work it inside out.”
The Arkansas defense caused 18 MSU turnovers. Those kind of miscues is something the Bulldogs haven’t done since the loss to Akron where they turned it over 19 times.
“It wasn’t the press on the front end, it was the press on the back end that sped us up,” said Stansbury. “We didn’t’ turn it over much on the front end but when they’ve sped you up and get you on the other end … that’s when you make bad decisions. You just can’t simulate that in practice.
"They sped us up offensively and we just didn’t do a good job of handling the pressure. I thought after the first half when we go in down six, I didn’t think we could play much worse, but hey, in the second half, I found out we could.”
The last time the Bulldogs allowed an opponent to score 98 was Alabama in 2005.
Despite the loss, State had a career night from Smith who had his point-production in just 18 minutes of play.
“This was just his kind of game,” said Stansbury. “He could just go out there and hoop it up.”
Rodney Hood also continued to perform at a high level as he contributed 17 points for the Bulldogs.
Sidney and Moultrie were virtually non-factors as they combined for 15 points and spent the majority of the night in foul trouble, with Moultrie fouling out at roughly the 7-minute mark.
State’s next outing will be in the friendly confines of the Humphrey Coliseum against Tennessee, who defeated Florida in their opener earlier 67-56 on Saturday.