Point guard matchup: For Bost, it’s personal

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Dee Bost knows which SEC point guards receive postseason and preseason honors, and he knows he’s not made many of those lists.
And he has a problem with that.
Not that he’s particularly worried about accolades, but Mississippi State’s sophomore views himself as one of the league’s elite point men, and for good reason. In the matchups with his more highly touted counterparts, Bost has simply outplayed them and beaten them.
Few would argue that the league’s top point guards are South Carolina’s Devan Downey, Arkansas’ Courtney Fortson and Chris Warren of Ole Miss. And last season, when Warren was injured, Terrico White did a terrific job running the Rebels’ show.
Bost will face Fortson, also a sophomore, for the third time in their collegiate careers when the Razorbacks (7-8, 0-0 SEC) visit Starkville today for a 6 p.m. showdown on ESPNU. It’s the SEC home opener for the Bulldogs (13-3, 1-0).
Bost can’t wait, because he savors these kinds of matchups.
“I take that personally, kind of,” Bost said. “When I play against them, I try to play better than them every game so people will take a look at it different.”
In Bost’s seven combined matchups against those four players, he’s gone 6-1 and bested them as a whole in every major statistical category. He’s averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game; his aforementioned foes have averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Bost has also committed fewer turnovers in those games and shot the ball better than all of his fellow point guards.
“I know Dee last year probably didn’t get many (defensive) stops, but I know when Fortson came, he was ready to play on both ends of the floor,” MSU guard Barry Stewart said.
Against MSU last season, Fortson averaged 12 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He committed eight turnovers in all, shot 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range.
State won both meetings, fueled by Bost’s 17 points in Fayetteville and his 25 points in Starkville.
Fortson and Bost both made the SEC All-Freshman team; Bost was a unanimous pick.
Bost was outplayed by only White, who averaged 19.5 points against MSU last season and earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. With Warren back at the point on Saturday, though, Ole Miss watched Bost go for 25 points in an 80-75 MSU win in Oxford.

Fortson returns
On paper, Bost would seem to have the edge on Fortson tonight. For one, Fortson has only played one game this year due to a suspension. His season debut against Texas, which is now ranked No. 1 in the country, on Jan. 5 was impressive: 19 points, seven assists.
However, he committed six turnovers and cramped up several times.
“I think the first thing we look at this Arkansas team, forget their record, they’re a totally different team now since they’ve had Fortson back,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “With Fortson back, as we saw the other night against Texas, they’re as good as anybody.”
And that should bring out the best in Bost.

Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.

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