By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Rodney Hood has been lauded by his coach and teammates as a model citizen who always does the right thing, so it was surprising when the freshman guard picked up a technical foul during No. 22 Mississippi State’s 91-88 win over Auburn on Saturday.
It happened with 1 minute, 56 seconds to go and MSU leading 81-74. A foul had been called on teammate Wendell Lewis, and then Hood said something not to the official’s liking.
Auburn’s Frankie Sullivan made two of four free throws.
“Y’all know Rodney Hood, he’s not going to say many things ever that’s disrespectful to anybody. What he said wasn’t disrespectful,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said.
In all, Hood had a solid game. He scored 11 points, making 4 of 8 shots, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He added six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 34 minutes.
“Rodney’s steady every game,” Stansbury said. “He’s just steady.”
Depth has been an ongoing concern for Stansbury, but he got some minutes out of Shaun Smith and Roquez Johnson on Saturday. Johnson was credited with just one minute – the freshman’s first in SEC play – but Smith turned in a valuable seven minutes of work.
The sophomore, who’s been battling hip issues, scored five points. He was on the floor for much of the game’s final 1:33, hitting a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left for a 90-84 lead.
Smith’s 3-pointer in the first half gave MSU a 22-21 lead.
“All he’s got to do is get his confidence, and when (Stansbury) puts him in, make plays,” point guard Dee Bost said. “Then he’ll get more minutes.”
They meet again
MSU junior Arnett Moultrie transferred from UTEP two years ago when coach Tony Barbee left for the Auburn job. They met again Saturday, two days after Barbee declined to say much to the media about Moultrie not following him to Auburn.
Moultrie scored 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and he made 7 of 11 free throws. He said he was surprised Auburn didn’t double-team him more, but he wasn’t focusing on facing Barbee.
“This game wasn’t between me and my old coaching staff,” Moultrie said, “it was between Auburn and Mississippi State.”
Free your mind
Sophomore Jalen Steele continues to stroke it. He scored 13 points Saturday, making 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Over his last four games, he’s shot 14 of 24 from deep.
“Stansbury was just like, go out there and play your game. Don’t worry about nothing, don’t think about nothing, just go out there and do what you do best,” Steele said. “I just go out there with a free mind and play my game.”