January 14, 2011 3:15:00 AM
David Miller -
OXFORD -- So much for Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney being out of shape.
The Mississippi State duo combined to score 49 points Thursday in the Bulldogs'' 69-64 win over Ole Miss.
Just five days prior, Sidney managed just two points and Bost struggled to reach 14 in MSU''s 75-57 SEC opening loss against Alabama.
Both served NCAA-mandated suspensions in the fall and entered Thursday with just four games played between them this season.
Fatigue and a lack of chemistry were at the root of Bost and Sidney''s dismal debut, but an entirely different scrip was written against the Rebels (12-5, 0-2).
Bost dropped 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting and had eight assists and three steals, while Sidney played a career-high 36 minutes and had 24 points and five boards. He was 9 of 12 from the floor.
"He controlled the flow of the game tonight, and that''s what I liked about him," Stansbury said of Bost. "He took a lot of jump shots against Alabama, but he wasn''t searching for them tonight."
MSU (9-7, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) snapped out of a funk that had seen it lose four of its last five.
Sidney''s two suspensions in Hawaii and Elgin Bailey''s transfer hung over the program when it returned to Starkville.
The Bulldogs'' league-opening loss to Alabama could have sent the team in the tank and damaged confidence.
"I thought we handled that loss as well as you could handle it going into practice," Stansbury said. "I thought we put it behind us and took some teaching points, but we were still upbeat. We understand who we are, what we are. We know we''re gonna get better."
Sidney scored 15 points in the second half and had a five-minute stretch in the in the period where he scored 15 of MSU''s 19 points.
Bost and Sidney worked the pick-and-roll to perfection, utilizing Sidney''s ability to cut to basket and pop out for jump shots to make Ole Miss'' defenders respect both aspects.
The result was Bost routinely finding his way to the basket and Sidney scoring in the post, at the free throw line and from deep.
"We saw that they can''t guard ball screens very well, so we tried to take advantage," Bost said. "Last year, I had a good game attacking the rim against them so that''s what I tried to keep doing."
Bost lauded Sidney''s performance, which saw the sophomore fight even greater fatigue through extended minutes.
"He was just going to the contact and trying to finish over the contact, hitting mid-range jumpers, knocking down threes. Tonight was his night.
"This was his best game overall. He''s been practicing hard lately. He just keeps pushing his self."
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy lamented his team''s poor shooting and lack of response to Bost and Sidney.
Rebels forward Reginald Buckner was saddled with foul trouble and played only 15 minutes, giving Sidney more room to operate in the paint.
The Rebels had 20 more shots than the Bulldogs, but made the same number (24), relying on the deep ball with 35 attempts.
"It was a pathetic effort on our part," Kennedy said. "We thought that they would zone us, and they did. It bothered us and we got tentative. We had it (the lead) to seven, eight (points) in the first half and made poor decisions.
"We''re not making sound decisions with the basketball."
Ole Miss point guard Chris Warren shouldered the scoring load with 25 points in an off-target night for the Rebels.
Warren was money from beyond the arc, finishing with 7 makes on 14 attempts.
"He played great, Bost said. "Give him credit. It made me have to try and keep up with him."
The Bulldogs trailed by as many seven points in the first, and at one point had a nine possession stretch where they missed five shots and turned the ball over four times.
As frenetic as MSU''s play was in the first half -- it turned the ball over 10 times and began the game with three straight -- it leaned on Bost''s hot hand and motor.
The junior point guard took the Bulldogs'' performance against Alabama personally, claiming they "played without heart" in the 18-point loss.
Bost made 6 of 7 shots for 16 points and had three assists in the first half, including a trey inside five minutes to cut the lead from 7 points to 4 and a put-back and 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
Bost scored 8 of MSU''s final 12 points of the first half to cut the deficit to 34-32.
The Bulldogs, who entered Thursday''s game having been held under 60 points in four of six games, suffered through another night of leading scorer Ravern Johnson''s shooting drought.
Johnson was 3 of 16 against Alabama and was 2 of 7 Thursday. He didn''t make his first bucket, a 3-pointer, until the 7:45-mark of the second half.
The Bulldogs didn''t get much offensively from Kodi Augustus, either, though the senior forward had a game-high 14 rebounds and four crucial free throws down the stretch.
Trailing 65-64, Ole Miss had a pair of opportunities to tie the game or take the lead but saw Zach Graham, Nick Williams and Warren miss jump shots in their last three possessions.
Graham finished 13 points but was held scoreless in the second half.
MSU returns to the court Sunday against Auburn in a 2 p.m. match at Humphrey Coliseum.