By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With a full week to prepare for it, No. 15 Mississippi State looked totally unprepared for the Arkansas press.
The Bulldogs (13-3, 0-1 SEC) were off-kilter all night, committing 18 turnovers in a 98-88 loss in front of 12,200 at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday night. Arkansas (12-3, 1-0) was also uncharacteristically accurate from outside, especially Jackson native Julysses Nobles and B.J. Young.
Those two scored 24 points apiece and accounted for all six of Arkansas’ 3-pointers (on 15 attempts).
Nobles hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range – he was shooting 28.8 percent entering the game – while Young was 10 of 13 overall and had 18 second-half points.
Arkansas scored 23 points off turnovers.
“It’s not the press at the front end, it’s at the back end when it speeds you up,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Those at the front end we didn’t turn it over much. But they cause you when you get at that end down there, because they sped you up coming against that press, then you make bad decisions.”
The Arkansas point total was the most scored against MSU this season and tied for the most ever given up by a Stansbury-coached team.
The Razorbacks shot 67.9 percent in the second half when they blew the game open.
Point guard Dee Bost scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, while his backup, DeVille Smith, notched 19 of his game-high 25.
But it wasn’t nearly enough, because Arkansas kept right on scoring.
“I thought at halftime we couldn’t play much worse,” Stansbury said. “But I found out we could.”
The Arkansas press gave MSU big trouble the moment Bost left the game to get a breather. MSU led 7-6 when he sat and trailed 14-7 by the time the senior returned.
Renardo Sidney’s second 3-pointer of the half drew State within 23-21, but the Hogs opened it up to 34-25 and led 43-37 at halftime.
MSU committed 11 turnovers in the first half, and Arkansas turned those into 14 points. The Razorbacks had only two giveaways.
“We wanted to be disruptive, and we did a good job of taking the ball out of Dee Bost’s hands,” Arkansas first-year coach Mike Anderson said. “And now Arnett Moultrie is taking the ball down the floor and getting them out of sync.”
Arkansas didn’t let up in the second half, quickly opening up a 55-41 lead and eventually pushing it to 75-55. State got it within 11 points, but then Moultrie fouled out as Nobles knifed through the defense for a layup with 6 minutes, 17 seconds left.
Rodney Hood had 17 points for MSU, which shot 51.9 percent from the floor, 45 percent from 3-point range and 80.6 percent (25 of 31) from the free throw line.
Arkansas hit 22 of 28 free throws (78.6 percent).