By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Dee Bost and Rodney Hood shook off quiet offensive starts to help Mississippi State shake off Eastern Kentucky on Monday night.
The Bulldogs opened their 100th season of basketball with a 76-66 win in front of 5,160 at Humphrey Coliseum. Bost, a senior point guard, scored 17 of 23 points in the second half, while the freshman Hood added 12 to go with nine rebounds.
MSU, which led by 12 points early, had trouble getting free of EKU and its uncommon style of play: A Princeton-style offense and a defense that heavily employs a 1-3-1 look.
“It was an ugly game, but a win’s a win,” said Arnett Moultrie, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Colonels got within 52-47 at the 10-minute, 37-second mark of the second half, but could get no closer. Hood hit a 3-pointer to make it an eight-point game and later knocked in a jumper for a 58-50 lead.
It was 64-58 when Bost drained a 3-pointer with 3:56 to go, and Hood pushed it to 69-58 moments later. Bost scored State’s final five points, punctuating the win with a steal and dunk with 19 seconds left.
Happy with Hood
Coach Rick Stansbury liked what he saw of Hood.
“Rodney’s beyond his years in his mental part of the game,” Stansbury said. “I don’t think the game speeds him up a lot.”
Renardo Sidney had nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes, sitting the final 4:40 of the game as MSU went to a smaller lineup. The 6-foot-10 junior committed four turnovers and had three steals.
MSU shot 55.6 percent in the second half, while EKU hit 46.9 percent after a tough first half of shooting (33.3 percent). Joshua Jones scored 13 points to pace the Colonels, who didn’t get a good game for guard Mike DiNunno – 4 of 17 shooting for 10 points.
Freshman DeVille Smith, hospitalized since Thursday with an undiagnosed illness, dressed out but didn’t play.
MSU hosts Akron at 6 p.m. Wednesday on ESPNU.