17th-ranked Bulldogs battle Owls in Starkville
Starkville, MS – The 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs conference affair.
FAU managed to halt a two-game slide on Saturday with a 98-70 romp over NAIA Division II foe Warner, but tonight's game obviously represents a major leap in competition level. The Owls are 4-5 overall this season, including 1-4 in true road games, as they continue to prepare for Sun Belt Conference play, which gets underway on New Year's Eve.
As for Mississippi State, a member of the loaded SEC, it is off to a stellar 9-1 start, and the team's lone loss came in the second outing of the season. The current winning streak was extended to eight games on Saturday with a 106-68 blowout of Troy that enabled the Bulldogs to improve to 7-1 in front of the home crowd.
Florida Atlantic won the only previous meeting between these two programs.
There are three double-digit scorers in the fold for FAU, and Greg Gantt leads the pack with 13.9 ppg. Pablo Bertone checks in with 10.7 ppg, and he is tops with 5.9 rpg as well. Rounding out the trio is Omari Grier with 10.1 ppg for the Owls, who are generating 69.4 ppg while surrendering 70.7 ppg to opponents. Taking a look at Saturday's 28-point blowout of little known Warner, Gantt poured in 21 points on the strength of a 9-of-12 shooting effort from the field. Grier posted 18 points off the bench, and Dennis Mavin contributed 13 points. The Owls connected on 53.7 percent of their field goal attempts in the tilt and racked up 23 assists against only 11 turnovers. They also finished with a 42-22 rebounding advantage, including a 13-3 edge on the offensive glass.
Either Dee Bost or Arnett Moultrie has led Mississippi State in scoring in every game this season, and while Bost tops the roster in both assists and steals, Moultrie has dominated the glass. Bost is averaging 18.1 ppg, 4.6 apg and 2.6 spg, while Moultrie checks in with 17.1 ppg and 11.3 rpg. Add Rodney Hood (12.3 ppg) to the mix and MSU has a tremendous trio to lean on. The Bulldogs are posting 76.7 ppg while permitting only 61.8 ppg to opponents on 40.2 percent shooting. On Saturday, Bost exploded for 28 points and nine assists in the triumph over Troy, and Moultrie pitched in 20 points, 12 boards and five assists. Renardo Sidney contributed 18 points and eight rebounds, Jalen Steele registered 15 points and Hood posted 12 points in that affair. MSU connected on 56.3 percent of its field goal attempts, including a blistering 16-of-31 effort from three-point range, and finished with 30 assists.