Fri, 19 Aug 2022

Tolu Smith gives Mississippi State added dimension against Lamar

Field Level Media
02 Dec 2021, 10:05 GMT+10

It didn't take Mississippi State's Tolu Smith long to get back in form.

He missed the preseason and the first four games of the season due to offseason foot surgery before making his debut in the Bahamas Championship last week in Nassau.

Smith, who led the SEC in double-doubles last season, had 10 points and seven rebounds in a first-round loss to Louisville on Thanksgiving, then had 22 points and 11 rebounds in an overtime win against Richmond to claim third place last Saturday.

MSU will play Lamar on Thursday in Starkville, Miss.

"I'm so happy for him," coach Ben Howland said of Smith. "He's a great team guy. I'm excited for the team to have him back. You can see how important of a role he plays on this team going forward."

Smith had 18 of his points after halftime as the Bulldogs (5-1) built a 12-point second half lead, lost it and then regrouped in the extra period. He made 10 of 11 field-goal attempts while having his third career 20-10 game.

"People didn't see the countless hours in the gym when the doors were closed," Smith said. "I worked hard to be able to shine and show people what I can do."

Lamar (1-6) has lost six consecutive games after an 89-57 loss at Texas Tech last Saturday. The Cardinals never led in the game as the Red Raiders raced to a 14-0 lead and coasted.

The game against Mississippi State concludes a four-game road trip for Lamar under first-year coach Alvin Brooks.

"Year one in a rebuild is not always great," Brooks said. "(But) I think we have the makings to create a lot of excitement."

Against Texas Tech, Davion Buster and C.J. Roberts scored 20 points each to lead Lamar, which shot just 38 percent from the floor. The Cardinals missed their first four shots and had three turnovers while Texas Tech made its first three 3-pointers during the opening surge.

The Red Raiders also shot 54 percent from the floor and had a 41-21 rebounding edge.

--Field Level Media

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