By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Rodney Hood can be an offensive force when he chooses to be. It’s just a matter of finding a balance between being aggressive and being smart.
In Mississippi State’s 69-57 loss to Florida, Hood put up just one shot in the first half and finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting. He entered the game averaging 11.5 points per game.
“I should have been more aggressive, but with Arnett (Moultrie) trying to get to the foul line, I can’t try to force myself,” Hood said. “I have to be aggressive, but at the same time, I can’t start doing stuff and speeding myself up.”
Florida applied some pressure on defense, something MSU has struggled against this season. It affected Hood.
“He let that pressure in the first half stand him up too much,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “When they’re into you on that perimeter, you’ve got to do two things: You’ve got to throw that ball in that post, and you’ve got to drive it in the paint.”
Moultrie was shooting 86.6 percent from the free throw line entering conference play. In the seven games since, he’s hitting just 65.9 percent. The forward was 4 of 8 against Florida.
But Stansbury isn’t concerned much about Moultrie. He was, however, disappointed in MSU’s effort as a whole at the free throw line Saturday.
The Bulldogs made just 8 of 14, missing a chance to gain an edge there. Florida was 4 of 7 but didn’t even attempt a free throw until the 5:22 mark of the second half.
“It’s a fine line on that road, especially for that visiting team,” Stansbury said. “You’ve got to take advantage of all those opportunities.”
Senior guard Brian Bryant scored eight of MSU’s first 12 points and finished with 11 on the game. He had eight by the 11:25 mark, when he hit a jumper just before the shot clock expired to give State a 12-10 lead.
Bryant’s backup, Jalen Steele, added nine points.
“We know everybody has to step up their role, and our team needs more out of me and Jalen,” Bryant said. “So we go in with the mindset of trying to help our team win.”
Smith’s return unclear
Freshman DeVille Smith has missed the last two games with dizziness, headaches and memory loss, and Stansbury said that as of Thursday he was still in the hospital.
The coach isn’t sure when Smith, Dee Bost’s backup at point guard, will rejoin the team. When asked if Smith might miss the rest of the season, Stansbury said, “I don’t know. He’s going to have to spend some time down there first.”