Bulldogs Stun Arkansas in Conference Opener

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Mississippi State opened up Southeastern Conference play with an impressive 70-56 win over Arkansas in men's college basketball action Saturday night.

The Bulldogs again used the long ball - hitting 11 3-point baskets in the contest. A spirited defensive effort and a big 13-0 run midway through the second half added up to a huge road for an MSU squad, which collected its third straight win overall.

MSU improved to 11-5 overall and 1-0 in league play. The Bulldogs won their conference opener for the 17th time in the past 19 seasons. MSU has now won three of its last four road openers in league play. The Bulldogs won for a fourth time ever in Fayetteville and third time ever in Bud Walton Arena. It was the largest margin of victory for an MSU squad in Fayetteville.

Arkansas, which entered the contest with 10 straight overall wins and back-to-back home wins over two Top 10 teams, fell to 12-2 and 0-1.

The score was tied four times and the lead changed hands three times in a very entertaining first half. Behind early 3-pointers from Barry Stewart and Ravern Johnson, the Bulldogs sprinted to a 10-2 advantage. Arkansas battled back for a 24-23 advantage on a Michael Washington dunk with 7:19 left in the half.

Romero Osby later added a dunk of his own as MSU rebuilt a 30-26 advantage. The Bulldogs maintained that lead, taking a 34-32 lead at the intermission. Arkansas built its largest lead of the game at 41-37 on a 3-point basket by Rotnei Clark with 16:03 left to play. The Bulldogs then slammed the door shut with a 13-0 run, covering the next four minutes of play. Bost hit a pair of 3-point baskets and also had a steal and layup during that run.

Arkansas got no closer than five points (at 50-45) the rest of the way.

Bost and Stewart each had 17 points to pace the Bulldogs' offensive attack. Each guard hit three 3-point baskets. Bost added five assists and a pair of steals, while Stewart added a pair of assists and five rebounds. Jarvis Varnado added 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Razorbacks received 18 points from Washington and 14 points from Rotnei Clark. Washington also had a game-high 15 rebounds, including eight offensive boards.

The difference in the contest was from behind the 3-point arc. Arkansas and MSU entered the contest third and fourth in the league in 3-point shooting at 37.9 and 37.1 percent respectively. MSU bettered that pace hitting 11 of 27 (40.7 percent) 3-point shots in the contest, while the Razorbacks were ice cold, 3 of 22 (13.6 percent) from behind the arc.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 25 of 56 field goal attempts (44.6 percent) and 9 of 15 foul shot attempts (60.0 percent). UA was 23 of 64 from the field (35.9 percent) and 7 of 15 from the the free throw line (46.7 percent).

Arkansas held a 42-38 rebounding advantage. The Razorbacks pulled down an amazing 17 offensive boards. MSU had 13 assists and 13 turnovers, while UA had seven assists and 14 turnovers.

The Bulldogs return home for a pair of conference games in the week ahead. The Bulldogs host Alabama at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Saturday. The MSU-Vanderbilt contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South.

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