January 7, 2012 11:20:00 PM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- What we learned?
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury came into Bud Walton Arena convinced his team had enough guard depth to handle Arkansas' full-court pressure defense and still guard them defensively.
Like in a hand of poker, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson called his bluff on that declaration and took home his biggest win since taking the job in Fayetteville with a 98-88 victory Saturday night.
The 15th-ranked Bulldogs (13-3, 0-1 in SEC play) continually compounded errors by handing the basketball over to trap defense leading to 18 turnovers, 11 in the first half and giving Arkansas 23 points off those mistakes.
Arkansas' offensive output tied for the most points an MSU has ever surrendered under Stansbury. The last time MSU gave up that many points defensively was in 98-49 loss at Alabama on Jan. 18, 2005.
MSU senior guard Dee Bost, who came into the contest averaging 16.2 points per game against Arkansas in his career, was able to get to the basket while matched up off screens on Razorbacks senior center Michael Sanchez but was unable to finish cleanly at the rim. MSU's Wooden Award nominee would get team-high 21 points with most of them coming from the charity stripe.
Bost's friends at the guard rotation Rodney Hood, Jalen Steele, Brian Bryant and DeVille Smith all combined for six turnovers in the game as well as Bost's season-high six to give Arkansas easy buckets on the other end.
Arkansas junior guards Julysses Nobles and freshman BJ Young can most certainly combining for 48 points. Nobles, a graduate of Jackson (Miss.) Callaway High School, was left open consistently and nailed 4-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc despite coming into the game shooting 28.8 percent from that range. His 24 points on the evening was a career high.
Young, the player Nobles replaced in the starting lineup Saturday night, simply couldn't as he continually took MSU's rotation of guard Stansbury placed on the former five-star recruit to the basket. When defenders finally gave the St. Louis native two steps of cushion, he drained 2-for-4 from three-point range.
What we heard?
Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury:
"We just didn't do a good job handling their pressure and getting it inside," Stansbury said. "It's the back end (of the press) that speeds you up. You just can't simulate that at all."
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson
"That was fun basketball so if anybody asks - is that the kind of basketball I envision us playing? Yes."
Jan. 12 vs. Tennessee (8-7, 1-0)
The Bulldogs will try to recover as they return to Humphrey Coliseum against a Volunteers team that just defeated No. 13 Florida 67-56 in Knoxville Saturday. The problem State will have is guess what Tennessee likes to do still under new coach Cuonzo Martin? Yup, you guessed it - pressure defense that causes havoc and turnovers to led to easy baskets. The key is can MSU's guard depth, that Stansbury, fans and this report for that matter, thought would be the strength of this team begin to handle teams that come straight at them on the perimeter. The Volunteers didn't have a player score over 13 points and forced Florida, who may arguably have the best guards in the SEC, to shoot 7-of-22 from beyond the three-point arc. Needless to say, an 0-2 start to SEC play would be near disaster for MSU.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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