By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Arnett Moultrie saw the matchup and figured he was in for a big night.
He was right.
The 6-foot-11 junior recorded his SEC-leading seventh double-double of the season to lead No. 18 Mississippi State to an 82-67 win over Northwestern State at Mississippi Coliseum on Thursday night.
Moultrie had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and 11 of those boards came on the offensive end. He shot 8 of 11 from the floor and had four assists.
“Me being 6-11, being athletic, it’s kind of hard for people to box me out,” Moultrie said. “I used my quickness to get around them. That’s how I was getting all the rebounds.”
He had a few dunks, too, as did several of his teammates. Those all got the crowd of 6,330 in a tizzy, especially a tomahawk jam by Jackson native Renardo Sidney in the first half.
Sidney sat out the second half with a strained patellar tendon, finishing with nine points. But MSU (12-1), which has won 11 consecutive games, remained the stronger team inside with Moultrie and reserve Wendell Lewis, who had a career-high 14 points and four rebounds.
MSU opened up a 20-point lead in the first half and led 41-27 at halftime, but the Demons (7-6) cut it to six early in the second half.
“That was right before the timeout, we went to the huddle and said that’s the last run they were going to make,” said Moultrie, who then sparked a 15-3 State run with two free throws and a pair of putbacks.
He made 8 of 8 free throws, and MSU hit 16 of 19 as a team.
Northwestern State refused to go quietly, but it just had no answer inside. The Demons, who shot 5 of 18 from 3-point range, were led by guards Shamir Davis (15 points) and Louis Ellis (13 points).
MSU coach Rick Stansbury said that after building up that 20-point lead, his team “kind of coasted from there on. We had those bags packed, going home” for Christmas.
The play of Moultrie and Lewis – and Sidney early – offset a poor shooting night by guards Dee Bost (3 of 14, eight points) and Rodney Hood (4 of 12, 11 points). State shot 45.6 percent from the floor, including 33.3 percent (4 of 12) from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs out-rebounded Northwestern State, 45-35, and had 24 second-chance points off 16 offensive boards.
Lewis logged a career high in minutes (25) and shot 6 of 8 from the field.
MSU is off until Dec. 28, when it plays No. 6 Baylor in Dallas.