February 8, 2009
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- How does a team know it has a pretty good shooting team?
When it sets a school record for 3-point field goals in a game.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs made a school record 16 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and rallied from a 15-point deficit at halftime to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks 86-77 in front of 7,421 at Humphrey Coliseum.
What made the performance so strange was MSU''s Ravern Johnson, who had the best 3-point percentage in the country at 49.2 percent, was 0 for 3 beyond the arc against Arkansas and became the the first starter for the Bulldogs to go scoreless in a game.
"That''s pretty amazing stuff," said Arkansas coach John Pelphrey. "They''ve got a good team. When one guy is guarded, someone else steps up."
With Johnson not being a factor, that meant Mississippi State (16-7 overall, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) was going to need contributions elsewhere to record a victory.
Dee Bost, Phil Turner, Barry Stewart and Riley Benock provided that help for the Bulldogs.
Bost made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 25 points, Phil Turner hit four 3s and added 16 points, Barry Stewart had three from long range and had a season-high 22 points and Riley Benock came off the bench to sink three 3-pointers.
"Dee Bost was terrific, Barry Stewart was terrific and we did it without Ravern making shots," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. "I was talking about this with Barry the other day. When you''ve got shooters and you take a couple of them out, you''ve just got to hope you''ve got two more. Today we had (four) because we had Riley off the bench. That''s what you hope for."
Bost sensed that Johnson was not particularly on his game so he knew production had to come from others.
"Everybody else had to step up and make shots," Bost said. "I knew they needed me and it helped turn the game around."
After being down 51-36 at halftime, the Bulldogs got back into the game with the shooting of Bost and Stewart. The margin shrunk to four points (53-49) with 16 minutes and 17 seconds remaining the game.
"The players deserve a lot of credit coming out of that dressing room because they could have very easily folded up against an SEC team," Stansbury said.
Mississippi State rallied to even the score at 66-66 on a fade away jumper by Brian Johnson with 8:47 left, then Benock made the second of his three 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs the lead 69-66 at the 8:11 mark.
Mississippi State kept the advantage from that point.
"It finally pushed us over the hump," Benock said. "We''d fight back, then they''d jump back ahead of us. Once we finally got the lead it gave us some extra confidence."
The contributions from Brian Johnson and Benock might get lost in the boxscore, but not with Stansbury.
"We had a couple of guys come off the bench and really added to the game," Stansbury said. "Brian Johnson came in and gave us great emotion and energy. Riley Benock came in and made shots."
All five starters scored in double figures for the Razorbacks (13-8 overall, 1-7 SEC) led by Courtney Fortson''s 19 points.
Mississippi State remains home to host SEC Western Division leading LSU on Wednesday.