Rapid Reax: Mississippi St. 67, Arizona 57
November, 18, 2011
By Dana O'Neil | ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- A quick look at Mississippi State’s 67-57 win over Arizona in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer:
What it means: Maybe, just maybe, Mississippi State is going to deliver on its promise. The Bulldogs, usually known more for their off-court drama than their on-court play, roll out of New York with the Coaches vs. Cancer trophy. A team next to which everyone put a big question mark at the start of the season may be providing some solid answers. Arizona, meantime, is going to be a good team. The Wildcats have athletes all over the floor and guys who can just flat-out play, but this young group still has to get over some growing pains.
How it happened: Mississippi State exposed Arizona in the paint, using Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney to either score or clear way for their guards. The two big men were a combined 12-of-18 from the field.
Star of the game: UTEP transfer Moultrie, maybe the most overlooked player on the Mississippi State roster, made eight of his 10 shots and scored 19 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Quite simply: He was a beast.
Halftime: More track meet than basketball game, Mississippi State held a slim 35-34 lead at the break. You could call it either great offense or bad defense. Regardless, the result was some seriously hot shooting. MSU used its obvious advantage on the inside to outscore Arizona in the paint 22-14, but the Wildcats’ ability to score from anywhere -- they got points from seven players in the first half -- kept UA in step with the Bulldogs.
What’s next: Mississippi State’s next big test will come on Dec. 3 when the Bulldogs host a young but talented West Virginia team in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Arizona’s tough nonconference schedule continues as the year winds down. The Wildcats will have a tricky road game at New Mexico State on Nov. 29, play at Florida on Dec. 7, host Clemson on Dec. 10 and face Gonzaga on Dec. 17.