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Bulldogs drop fourth-straight SEC game, fall to the Gators

January 26, 2013

Mississippi State's Roquez Johnson (25) and Gavin Ware (20) defend against Florida Saturday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

It has been tough sledding for the Mississippi State men's basketball team since opening up 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

The Bulldogs dropped their fourth-straight conference contest Saturday night.

MSU (7-11, 2-4) fell to the No. 7 (Associated Press) Florida Gators (16-2, 6-0) 82-47 inside Humphrey Coliseum.

"Right now, we are just a selfish basketball team," Bulldog head coach Rick Ray said. "On top of that, we are not defending the way we need to defend because we are so wrapped up in our offense."

This is the first time since the Humphrey Coliseum opened its doors in 1975, that MSU has lost back-to-back games by 30-plus points. The Bulldogs dropped a 32-point decision to Alabama last week. 

"Florida is by far the best team in the SEC," Ray said. "I would venture to say they are probably playing better than anybody else in the nation at this point and time."

The Bulldogs never held a lead in the game as the Gators jumped out often and quick.

The Gators held a 10-6 lead with 16:04 left in the first half. They opened up the game with a 21-2 run to make it 31-8. 

"We didn't want to get out to a start like we did at Georgia," Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "(Erik) Murphy started out making shots and I followed. We wanted to get a led and keep it up."

It was ended when MSU's Craig Sword's steal led to a Gavin Ware dunk on the other end with 7:38 left before halftime.

The Bulldogs went on their own 9-2 run to make it 33-17, but the Gators ended the half on a 8-2 run to make it 41-19 at halftime.

MSU didn't help Florida with its halftime lead, as they only turned the ball over five times in the opening half.

The Bulldogs drained the shot clock for most of the first half and had to put the ball up as time expired from bad spots on the floor. It was all about keeping the ball out of Florida's hands.

"All we talked to our team about was limiting Florida's possessions," Ray said. "The way you limit their possessions is not taking quick shots, bad shots or turning the ball over. In our case like I've told our guys time and time again, 'a bad shot is a turnover.'"

The Gators started the half on a 15-2 run to make the score 56-21. MSU's Fred Thomas's dunk with 14:37 ended the Gator's run. 

"We started the second half very, very well on both ends of the floor," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. 

The Gators made 31-of-56 field goals for 55 percent for the game. They knocked down 14-of-31 3-pointers for 45 percent. 

"We weren't rotating right," Sword said. "We kept losing our man, so that leaves them wide open shots. They were hitting them. We put a hand in their face and they were still hitting them."

MSU only shot 33 percent (17-of-52) from the field. They only knocked down 3-of-15 3-pointers for 20 percent.

The Bulldogs were out-rebounded 44-20. The Gators also pulled down 12 offensive boards to MSU's six.
"Anytime you give up an offensive rebound then you are giving them another chance to score the basketball," Ray said. "They hurt us with some offensive rebounds, but they shot 64 percent in the second half so you don't have as many defensive rebound opportunities for ourself. They did a good job on the board but a lot of has to do with the shooting percentages."

The Bulldogs were led by Thomas's career-high 19 points. He also had seven steals which is tied for second in a single game in the SEC.

"I'm just staying in the gym getting extra shots up," Thomas said. "It's just paying off for me. I was just trying to stay active and do all I can do to keep us in it."

Ware and Borchert each had 10 points. The 10 points for Borchert are a career best in SEC play.
MSU junior guard Jalen Steele was held scoreless and was 0-of-5 from the field.

"We wanted to put Boynton on (Steele) and put Scottie (Wilbekin) on Sword," Donovan said. "The one guy to me that adds a different element to their team is Steele."

The Bulldogs return to the home court Wednesday night for a match against Texas A&M. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and can be seen on CSS.

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