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August 7, 2011

State opens with a win

ALMERE, Netherlands - Less than 30 hours after arriving to Amsterdam, Mississippi State opened its five-game European tour with a solid 82-70 win against the split Netherlands national team Sunday afternoon at the Top Sports Centrum.

And it was a pair of newcomers that led the charge for the Bulldogs, who never trailed in the contest.

Arnett Moultrie, the transfer from UTEP playing for the first time in more than a year, shined in his debut with 14 points and 14 rebounds to record a double-double, while highly touted freshman Rodney Hood led all scorers with 15 points.

Also in double-digits for MSU where junior forward Wendell Lewis with 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting and freshman point guard Deville Smith with 11.

"I loved our effort," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "Now did we play a perfect game? No. We have a lot to work on. But considering all the new faces we have and the limited number of practices without any type of scouting report, I thought we did OK."

MSU opened with a lineup featuring Dee Bost, Brian Bryant, Shaun Smith, Lewis and Moultrie. However, the bench provided a spark as the six reserves all scored en route to accounting for 42 points.

But if there was a key to the outcome, at least early on, it was the play inside.

Of the Bulldogs' first 14 points, 12 came in the paint - six from Lewis and four from Moultrie.

"It's been a long time since I've played in a game, and it felt good to be back on the court," said Moultrie, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. "I thought I did good, but I'm not where I know I can be. But it was a good start."

Playing by FIBA rules, MSU led 18-14 after the opening quarter and then extended the lead to 37-30 at the break following a 3-pointer by Deville Smith at the buzzer.

In the second half, however, MSU found success both inside and out as it built as much as a 21-point lead at 76-55 with 4:40 left on layup inside by Lewis.

"I thought it was a good first game, but I'm disappointed with my rebounds," said Lewis, who had three boards on the night.

State shot 50 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, and 48.6 percent for the game on 36 of 74 shooting.

Hood, who was just 2 of 7 in the opening two quarters, was 4 of 6 in the second half. Also with a solid second half was freshman Roquez Johnson, who hit 3 of his 4 shots to finish with nine points.

"This is a good experience for all of our new guys," Stansbury said. "It's a taste for what they'll see come November."

Defensively, MSU held the Netherlands to 26-of-63 shooting while forcing 20 turnovers and turning those miscues into 19 points. They also collected 12 steals, with Deville Smith leading the charge with three.

If there was a negative, it came at the foul line.

MSU, which returns to action at 9:30 a.m. CT tomorrow at Rotterdam, missed its first nine shots from the charity stripe, but rebounded by hitting its final seven.

Kendrick Zondervan and Jeroen van Vugt, who drained three 3-pointers, led the Netherlands with 14 points each.


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