Minus his social media confidence that preceded Mississippi State’s 75-67 loss to rival Ole Miss in Oxford earlier this year, Bost did his talking on the floor with a 15 points on 4 for 9 for shooting and a career-high 13 assists to lead the Bulldogs to a 70-60 win over the Rebels before a Humphrey Coliseum crowd of 10,364 on Thursday night.
The reemergence of Bost was good news for Bulldogs’ forward Arnett Moultrie. The UTEP transfer was relatively quiet in Oxford, posting a double-double but never really taking over the game.
The beneficiary of many of Bost’s best passes, Moultrie was 9 for 14 shooting for a game-high 18 points, one of four MSU players in double figures.
He had nine rebounds, and the No. 20-ranked Bulldogs (19-5, 6-3 SEC) outrebounded the Rebels (14-9, 4-5) 38-33.
Ole Miss has dropped three of its last four and hasn’t beaten the Bulldogs in successive meetings since 2008-2009.
Bost was quiet on Twitter following the game in Oxford. He said he had plenty of communication directed his way but chose not to respond.
“I told everybody we had to make sure we didn’t lose. I had to step it up,” he said. “This was a must-win, probably my last game against them.”
In Oxford, the Rebels’ Terrance Henry, 6-foot-9, was able to use his length to bother the 6-2 Bost, but Bost got better looks for himself and his teammates the second time around.
“He had 15 the first game, then 15 tonight, but it was a very different 15,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “The first game we kept him out of the lane. I hate to sound like I’m Dee Bost’s agent, because I’m not. I believe he’s the best point guard in the league, and he played like that tonight.”
MSU came out in attack mode and got its frontcourt involved early as it raced out to an 8-0 lead.
The Rebels, though, hung around, and it looked like they might escape an uninspiring half of defensive basketball in decent shape down 33-27 after Jarvis Summers answered a Bost 3-pointer with one of his own with 1:54 on the clock.
But the Bulldogs closed with a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from Jalen Steele, his third of the half on five attempts, and two buckets from Moultrie, the last with an assist from Bost with 2 seconds left.
The Rebels shot better near the end of the half to get up to 44.4 percent, still a step behind the 51.6 shooting they allowed.
The second half began with an open-look 3 from Bost after Nick Williams and Henry lost him on a defensive switch.
The MSU lead reached 18, and though the Bulldogs weren’t seriously challenged down the stretch, they also couldn’t turn it into a laugher.
Reggie Buckner – who had 19 points and 15 rebounds in the first game – led the Rebels with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting and nine rebounds.
Summers had 12 points, four assists and only one turnover, and Jelan Kendrick had 11 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The Bulldogs negated Henry and Williams. Henry was averaging 17.2 points over his last five games, and Williams was coming off a 19-point effort at Alabama.
Henry was 2 for 9 shooting for six points, and Williams, 0 for 5 from the floor, didn’t score.
“Dee did a great job of controlling the flow, and I thought we were really focused,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “Defensively we had our edge. We shared the ball, and we shot it very well. It was a great team effort.”