By David Brandt/The Associated Press
STARKVILLE — Arnett Moultrie had 21 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and No. 21 Mississippi State pulled away from West Virginia for a 75-62 victory on Saturday night.
Dee Bost scored 17 points and Jalen Steele added 10, including a 3-pointer late in the second half that gave the Bulldogs a 67-57 lead.
Mississippi State (8-1) led throughout the first half, but a free throw by Deniz Kilicli gave the Mountaineers a 35-34 advantage right after halftime. The game remained close until Bost’s steal and ensuing slam put Mississippi State ahead 60-54 with 5:31 remaining.
Kevin Jones and Kilicli led West Virginia (4-2) with 14 points each.
Moultrie has been productive all season for the Bulldogs, averaging 16 points and 10.8 rebounds through his first six games. And his latest strong effort came in front of a packed Humphrey Coliseum crowd, hitting several important baskets during the second half when West Virginia tried to make its final push.
He went 7 for 8 from the field — including sinking his only 3-point attempt — and 6 for 7 from the free throw line.
Moultrie’s big numbers continue to offset limited contributions from Renardo Sidney, the oft-troubled but undeniably talented big man. He struggled once again against the Mountaineers, fighting foul trouble and a tenacious defense. He did have a monster dunk early in the second half and a quick pass to Wendell Lewis for a dunk a few minutes later, but never had a huge impact.
He finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Mississippi State opened a 25-15 lead with 8:30 remaining in the first half. West Virginia slowly fought back, and back-to-back baskets by Kilicli got the Mountaineers within 34-32 by halftime.
Kilicli also scored West Virginia’s first five points after intermission, but neither team could gain much of an advantage throughout a physical second half.
Mississippi State finally broke free late in the game, when Bost stole the ball and sprinted the length of the court for an emphatic one-handed dunk that gave the Bulldogs a six-point lead. Bost was 4 for 14 from the field, but also added five rebounds, five steals and seven assists.
Steele put the game out of reach a few minutes later, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner for the 67-57 advantage.
Mississippi State shot 49 percent (26 for 51) from the field, but West Virginia won the rebounding battle 36-31.
The Mountaineers went 2 for 15 from 3-point range.