By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – It was thought that starting guard Riley Benock would not play Wednesday because of a bruised shoulder, and while he didn’t start, he did get in the game and made a difference.
In fact, he logged 22 minutes, which helped an already thin MSU backcourt keep its wind, and made two key free throws late in the 67-56 win over Arkansas.
Benock was listed as questionable but told coach Rick Stansbury right before tipoff that he could play.
“He’s a tough kid. He’s a senior that wants to help his team win,” Stansbury said. “A guy that’s willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the team, that’s what you like.”
For the second game, MSU was without senior guard Ravern Johnson, who’s serving an indefinite suspension. Because of that and Benock’s injury, redshirt freshman Shaun Smith drew his second career start, giving MSU its eighth different lineup this season.
Benock, a 6-foot-4 senior, suffered his injury Tuesday during practice when he caught a teammate’s elbow during a one-on-one rebounding drill.
He got a Marcaine numbing shot and a steroid shot before the game.
“I felt all right, but it was definitely something where I was trying to get passes to other people or something in close before I was looking to get my own shot,” said Benock, who finished with four points, three rebounds and three steals.
With Benock not starting, senior Kodi Augustus is now the only Bulldog to have started every game this season.
Clarke cold again
– Rotnei Clarke’s MSU misery continued.
The junior guard from Arkansas has done nothing but struggle against the Bulldogs, and it was no different Wednesday night. The all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma high school hoops history was held to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting (2 of 6 from 3-point range).
Freshman Jalen Steele guarded Clarke for most of the game.
“I felt like I had some open looks I should’ve knocked down,” Clark said. “They did a good job of staying with me for the most part, and just sticking to me.”
In five career games against State, Clarke has averaged 10.0 points and shot 30 percent from the field, including 26.3 percent from 3-point range.
Entering the game, Clarke was averaging a team-leading 13.2 points per game while shooting 41 percent from behind the arc.
Another big threat, sophomore Marshawn Powell, was held to four points, including none in the second half. He scored 25 in Starkville last year.
Bost hits 1,000
– MSU junior guard Dee Bost’s second bucket of the night put him past the 1,000-point mark for his career. He’s the 33rd Bulldog to hit that milestone.
Bost played with a strained Achilles’ tendon and became visibly tired near game’s end. But he finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
– “I think what I’m most proud about is that was one of the most gutsy efforts.” – MSU coach Rick Stansbury
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.