State men overcome early adversity for win

Mississippi State's Tyson Carter (23)

Staff Writer

Less than 30 seconds into Friday night’s game between No. 17 Mississippi State and Long Beach State, Nick Weatherspoon was on the Humphrey Coliseum floor writhing in pain.

The sophomore guard of the Bulldogs rolled his left ankle and had to be removed and didn’t return.

It was an inauspicious start for MSU and it got even worse when the 49ers sprinted out to a 28-21 lead by late in the first half. However on this night, the Bulldogs battled through the adversity and behind strong showings from Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter, as well as a dominating second-half defensive effort, Mississippi State remained unbeaten and earned a 79-51 victory.

“That just shows a veteran group,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said of how his team bounced back from a tough early beginning.

As for Nick Weatherspoon, he’ll be evaluated in the coming days to determine his status going forward. He was undergoing treatment after the game on Friday and Howland was unsure how long, if at all, his team will be without Weatherspoon. However the Bulldogs (3-0) proved on Friday they have more than enough to hold serve in his absence if need be.

Offensively, Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters, Tyson Carter and Aric Holman picked up the slack. Quinndary Weatherspoon scored a game-high 21 points and Carter added 17. Peters scored 16 and Aric Holman had 10 for Mississippi State.

It was Carter, a former Starkville High standout, who provided the biggest spark for MSU to overcome its early problems. Carter led the Bulldogs in scoring in the first half as he scored 13 over the first 20 minutes of action. His 3-pointer with 4:54 to go before halftime turned the game around.

Mississippi State was trailing by seven points when Carter hit a trey. That shot put the Bulldogs on a 15-0 run to close out the half as they took control of the contest.

Carter’s run-starting 3-point shot was also the start of when MSU really put the clamps on defensively. Long Beach State (1-3) didn’t score over the final 6:08 of the first half.

“Everything starts with our defense,” Howland said. “We got really hurt in transition early on in this game. We did a good job to bounce back after a really tough beginning to the game.”

MSU continued to limit the 49ers after the intermission. Long Beach State shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the second half as the Bulldogs pulled away.

“We just wanted to finish strong,” Peters said.

For the game, MSU limited Long Beach State to 32.7 percent shooting and the Bulldogs out-rebounded the 49ers 52-34.

Freshman forward Reggie Perry set the rebounding pace for Mississippi State with 14 boards.

“I was really happy for Reggie,” Howland said. “We keep stats every single day in practice and he’s been one of the top three rebounders the entire year for us in our practices. You play how you practice and you could see what he’s capable of (on Friday).”

It was an all-around satisfying night for the Bulldogs. They proved they could fight through adversity, got balanced offense and excelled defensively. It was a momentum-building way for Mississippi State to head into its first road trip of the season. The Bulldogs are next slated to play a pair of games in Las Vegas at the MGM resorts Main Event. MSU begins its slate in Vegas against Arizona State at 10 p.m. on Monday.