By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Arnett Moultrie might be even better than advertised.
The 6-foot-10 junior had yet another double-double, recording 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 21 Mississippi State past West Virginia, 75-62, in front of a packed Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday night in the Big East/SEC Challenge.
It was a big early-season win for MSU (8-1), which out-scored the Mountaineers 23-10 over the game’s final 7 minutes, 38 seconds.
Moultrie, the transfer from UTEP, recorded his fourth double-double in seven games. He made 7 of 8 shots and 6 of 7 free throws.
“Some guys can do it at 3 o’clock and can’t do it when the popcorn’s popping,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “He’s one of those guys that takes it to another level. That’s one thing I didn’t (initially) know about him.”
It wasn’t just Moultrie making plays during the decisive stretch. Wendell Lewis, Jalen Steele and Dee Bost all had big buckets as State won its seventh in a row.
It was 52-all when State went on a 10-2 run, which was started by Moultrie making two free throws and a jumper. It was also highlighted by a steal and dunk by Bost, which prompted a West Virginia timeout.
Moments later, Renardo Sidney made a nice feed to Lewis for a layup and 62-54 MSU lead with 4:04 left. The Bulldogs kept the momentum, with Steele’s 3-pointer from the corner pushing it to 67-57 with 2:24 left.
Bost finished with 17 points, seven assists and five steals. Steele scored 10.
MSU shot 49 percent for the game and was out-rebounded, 36-31, the first time all season it’s lost the board battle. But West Virginia (4-2) didn’t get as many second-chance points after halftime and couldn’t get its outside game going.
The Mountaineers shot 39.7 percent overall, including 2 of 15 from 3-point range. They scored 17 points below their average.
“I think they’re really good,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said of MSU. “I think we suck right now.”
MSU played without guard Brian Bryant, who is serving a three-game suspension for a violation of athletic department rules.
Freshman guard DeVille Smith electrified the crowd early with a baseline drive and dunk to give State a 17-10 lead. That swelled to a 10-point advantage, but West Virginia’s 7-0 spurt cut it to 25-22 at the 5:24 mark.
The Mountaineers kept it close by winning the rebound battle, scoring 14 second-chance points in the first half. Kilicli, a 6-foot-9 junior, hit two buckets in the final minute for West Virginia, and MSU led 34-32 at the break.
Sidney wasn’t much of a factor the first half, often remaining idle on offense and not attacking inside on either end. He got it going in the second half but was limited by foul trouble. He finished with eight points and three boards.
West Virginia took its first lead of the game, at 35-34 early in the second half on a free throw by Kilicli. State pulled back ahead, but Kilicli tied it at 50-50 on a fast-break layup with 8:44 remaining.
Kilicli and Kevin Jones had 14 points apiece for West Virginia.
MSU returns to action next Saturday against Troy.