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Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press
Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie (23) dribbles past Alabama forward Tony Mitchell and guard Levi Randolph in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. Mississippi State won 56-52.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — It isn't surprising that Mississippi State is one of the better teams in the Southeastern Conference.

The fact that Arnett Moultrie has become the Bulldogs' best player is more of a stunner.

The Texas-El Paso transfer was expected to be a quality addition after sitting out last season because of transfer rules, but few predicted the 6-foot-11 junior would be among the SEC's best players. He's averaging 16.5 points and grabbing a league-leading 10.9 rebounds per game.

No. 18 Mississippi State is one of just three nationally-ranked teams in the SEC as two crucial road games against in-state rival Ole Miss and Vanderbilt loom this week. The fast start has allowed the Bulldogs to maintain their status as a darkhorse contender for a conference title.