Dee Bost has played a vital role in keeping Mississippi State headed in the right direction. He also played a big part during his team's most recent visit to rival Mississippi.
Bost will try to lead the 18th-ranked Bulldogs to a sixth consecutive win over the Rebels and their first four-game win streak in Oxford in nearly a century Wednesday night.
Mississippi State (15-3, 2-1 SEC) hasn't had it easy in its past five games, a stretch that started with a 54-52 loss to then-No. 6 Baylor that ended an 11-game win streak. The Bulldogs edged Utah State 66-64 at home three days later to wrap up their non-conference slate before losing 98-88 at Arkansas on Jan. 7 to open SEC play.
Bost's heroics have kept them from suffering any more defeats. His steal and dunk against Tennessee on Thursday helped Mississippi State prevail 62-58 on Thursday, and he hit three 3-pointers in the final 4:23 of a 56-52 win against Alabama on Saturday.
"Bost is one of those guys who can step up and take shots," coach Rick Stansbury said. "We live with the bad shots he takes because he can get on a roll and he did that today at a critical time."
Bost finished with 17 points against the Crimson Tide and Arnett Moultrie, a recently named Wooden Award finalist, had a team-best 25 and 13 rebounds.
"This is (Bost's) team. He's the head of our snake," Moultrie said. "As he goes, we go."
Bost had a team-25 points, eight assists and six rebounds during a 69-64 win last January at Ole Miss, including two free throws with 2:38 left that gave his team the lead for good.
He had nine assists during a 71-58 home victory over the Rebels on Feb. 19, but was held to a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting. Bost had scored in double figures in each of the previous five matchups, averaging 17.4 points over those games.
Mississippi State hasn't won four straight at Ole Miss (11-6, 1-2) since claiming the first five games there from 1914-16. The Rebels might not make that easy as they've won 12 in a row at home, a streak that began with a 71-69 upset of then-No. 10 Kentucky on Feb. 1.
The Rebels earned their lone win in conference play last Wednesday in Oxford, 71-63 over Arkansas, but lost 69-68 in double overtime at Auburn on Saturday.
Jarvis Summers had 14 of his 22 points over the final 12 minutes during his team's rally from a 12-point deficit. Junior guard Nick Williams, who had 13 points, missed 13 of 18 shots but hit the tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation.
"As hard as it is, you've got to push forward," coach Andy Kennedy said. "You've got to now try to put your focus on the next opportunity."
To take advantage of that opportunity, Kennedy's team will have to contain Renardo Sidney. The junior forward, averaging 10.1 points this season, scored 24 in last season's win in Oxford and had 22 points and 12 rebounds during the victory in Starkville.
The addition of Moultrie will likely help in this game. The junior transfer from UTEP is the SEC's leading rebounder with 10.9 per game and is averaging a team-best 16.5 points on 58.1 percent shooting.
The Bulldogs lead the conference's most-played rivalry 138-105, but have lost 77 of their 120 games in Oxford.
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