JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi State erased a 12-point first-half deficit, rolling past Belhaven 101-76 in an exhibition men's basketball game played Wednesday night at the Mississippi Coliseum.
In his Bulldog debut, Renardo Sidney had 10 points and six rebounds in 15 minutes of play. Sidney was 4-of-9 from the field and had a blocked shot. Many of the crowd of 4,318 eagerly anticipated Sidney's debut, as he had missed the first nine regular season games this season awaiting NCAA eligibility.
"Renardo had a lot of fatigue," MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. "He will have to get in better shape if we are going to use him a lot. However, he showed a lot of good things tonight."
The Bulldogs appeared sluggish in the early stages. MSU was playing its fifth contest in five days.
Belhaven scored the game's first six points and sprinted to a 21-11 lead less than eight minutes into the contest. A pair of free throws by Britton Smith gave the Blazers their biggest lead of the game, at 25-13 with 11:33 left before halftime.
The Bulldogs then righted the ship and seized control of the game. MSU pieced together a 14-4 run - highlighted by a 3-point basket from Kodi Augustus and a steal and layup by Dee Bost.
Bost was also seeing his first game action of the 2010-11 season, as he awaits NCAA eligibility. He will return to the MSU roster on a full-time basis in the Southeastern Conference opener on Jan. 8. Bost had 26 points, nine assists and seven turnovers in 35 minutes of action.
The Bulldogs eventually took their first lead on another Augustus 3-pointer at 40-38 with 2:08 left in the half.
MSU actually scored the final 13 points of the half and took a 48-38 lead into the intermission.
"Give credit to Belhaven," Stansbury said. "We weren't emotionally into the game early. After a couple of shots fell, we got into a rhythm. We had good offensive production from several players in the game."
The Bulldogs started quickly in the game's final half. A Ravern Johnson 3-pointer ran the Maroon and White advantage to 62-45 with 15:54 left.
The Blazers closed within nine on two different occasions. A Rob Wallace 3-point basket cut the deficit to 67-58 with 11:37 remaining.
MSU then enjoyed a 14-5 run removing all doubt from the contest.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 39 of 72 shots from the field (54.2 percent), 15 of 33 shots from 3-point range (45.5 percent) and 8 of 13 shots from the foul line (61.5 percent). The Blazers hit 27 of 65 shots from the field (41.5 percent), 7 of 19 shots from 3-point range (36.8 percent) and 15 of 22 shots from the foul line (68.2 percent).
MSU held a 43-35 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 23 assists and 16 turnovers, while the Blazers had 10 assists and 19 turnovers.
Johnson, MSU's leading scorer on the season, scored a team-high 29 points, including a 10-for-17 night from the field with six 3-point baskets. Bost followed with his 26 points, while Augustus scored 11 points and Sidney added 10 points.
Wendell Lewis had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds for MSU. John Riek also added eight points and four rebounds in six minutes of action.
Wallace paced the NAIA-member Blazers with 31 points. Also in double figures were Smith with 11 points and Terence Stringfellow with 10 points.
The Bulldogs return to regular season play Saturday night. MSU will face Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. in the Battle at Atlantis to be played at Paradise Island, Bahamas.