Bulldogs battle back to beat Terriers

Mississippi State's Tyson Carter (23)

Staff Writer

Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland preached to his team for several days about how dangerous Wofford was.

If that wasn’t abundantly clear to the Bulldogs at the outset of Wednesday night’s game, it was just after halftime when the Terriers took a 12-point lead over MSU.

Yet on this night, Mississippi State proved to ultimately be up to the task. No. 17 MSU roared back to claim a 98-87 win over Wofford to escape a big-time challenge.

“I give all the credit to our coaches,” MSU forward Aric Holman said. “Our preparation led us to this victory. They constantly kept telling us how good (Wofford) was and how fast-paced they were and how they play. We took that to heart.”

Holman helped lead the way for Mississippi State (10-1). He tied with guard Lamar Peters for the team lead with 19 points each. The Bulldogs put up their highest-scoring night of the season. It was much needed, too.

Wofford (9-4) lived up to its reputation as a team that could score in bunches and pile up the points. The Terriers shot 61.5 percent from the field in the first half, including a 75 percent clip from 3-point range. That gave Wofford a 50-41 halftime lead.

It was starting to look like the Terriers might pull off the upset when Nathan Hoover hit a trey early in the second half to stretch the Wofford lead to 53-41, but that’s when the Bulldogs responded.

State went on a 12-0 run to tie things up. Howland credited the run to MSU’s defense finally stiffening.

“I thought our defense to start the second half was how we got back in the game,” Howland said. “(Wofford) scored just six points in the first 7 minutes of the second half.”

With MSU’s defense making life tougher on Wofford, Peters took care of most of the rest for the Bulldogs on the offensive end. He scored 13 of his 19 total points in the second half. Included in that hot stretch, Peters went 4-for-4 from 3-point range after the intermission.

Wofford head coach Mike Young was left incredibly impressed with Peters.

“I told two NBA guys out there before the game (Peters) reminds me of (Denver Nuggets guard) Isaiah Thomas,” Young said. “He’s just dynamic and lulls you to sleep and will rise up over you.

“Obviously he’s worked at it and is very serious about being a lead player. What a guard he is. Holy Toledo. I’m glad I don’t have to guard him in our conference.”

Quinndary Weatherspoon also played a huge role in MSU’s comeback. He finished the night just 2-for-10 from the field, but still had 18 points as he got to the free-throw line 15 times and sank 14 of those shots. Just as big, he was key in MSU’s defensive effort.

“He’s the straw that stirs the drink,” Young said of Weatherspoon.

Also aiding Mississippi State’s cause, Nick Weatherspoon and Reggie Perry added 12 points each. Tyson Carter had eight off the bench. Robert Woodard II provided seven.

It all added up to another NCAA Tournament-resume-building win for the Bulldogs who have now won seven straight. Howland was proud to escape with the victory.

“What a tough game,” Howland said. “Credit to Wofford. I think I’ve been really clear how good they are and that was apparent.

“It’s really gratifying to be able to beat a team that’s this good.”