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Shots do not fall for State in home loss

February 24, 2013

Mississippi State's Craig Sword (32) gets caught in the middle of the Vanderbilt defense on Saturday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The Mississippi State men's basketball team had trouble getting its shots to fall on Saturday.
It showed up once again on the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs (7-19, 2-12) fell to the Vanderbilt Commodores (11-15, 5-9) 72-31 Saturday afternoon inside Humphrey Coliseum to extend their 12-game losing streak.

"Every time we come back home, it's a struggle," MSU junior guard Jalen Steele said. "When you come back home, a team's supposed to play better at home, but for some reason for us, it just goes down."

The Bulldogs hadn't lost 12-straight games since 1955 when they lost 14 and they haven't lost 12-straight Southeastern Conference games since losing 16 from Feb. 4, 1981-Jan. 23 1982. 

The 31 points by MSU is the lowest of the season. The Bulldogs only scored 36 against Missouri earlier in the season. It is also the lowest point total for MSU since the shot clock was introduced during the 1985-86 season.

"This has happened to us twice now here against Vanderbilt and at home against Missouri," State head coach Rick Ray said.

The Bulldogs missed their first 11 field goals to start the game. Trivante Bloodman's layup with 8:50 remaining in the opening half was the first field goal of the day for MSU.

"Our guys get wrapped up with their own shots and when their shots are not going down then we just don't do a very good job with the rest of the game," Ray said.

MSU made a season-low seven field goals for the whole game. They shot just under 20 precent for the contest.

"It boils down to the fact that Vanderbilt and Missouri make open shots," Ray said. "We fail to knock down open shots."

The Bulldogs were 6-of-6 from the free-throw line before hitting their first field goal.

MSU tied it up at 2-2 early in the game on two Gavin Ware free throws. The Commodores then went on a 13-0 run to take the lead for good.

Kevin Bright knocked down a 3-pointer at the 17:04 mark to spark the run for Vanderbilt. Fred Thomas of the Bulldogs knocked down a pair of free throws with 10:49 remaining in the first half to end the run.

The Commodores took a 37-17 halftime lead. MSU shot only 4-of-22 from the field for 18 percent in the first half.

"That was simply a case of us getting off to a good start and really never giving them an opportunity to recover," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said. "I thought our guys were very sharp with our attention to the game plan."

The Bulldogs were 0-of-11 from behind the 3-point line, and didn't hit their first 3-pointer until Bloodman knocked down a shot behind the arc with 17:39 left in the second half.

Vanderbilt out-rebounded Mississippi State 51-17. The Commodores also grabbed 21 offensive boards to three for the Bulldogs.

"They just did an unbelievable job on the offensive glass," Ray said. "The 20 offensive rebounds are totally unacceptable."

The 17 rebounds are the fewest for MSU this season and the minus-34 rebounding deficit is the worst of the season.

"They just out hustled and played us," Ware said. "We weren't very competitive. As we continue to play, something's got to change. We have to develop more."

Vanderbilt increased its lead in the second half and held a 39-point lead at 67-28 with 4:45 left in the game. It was Vanderbilt's biggest lead of the game at the time.

The Bulldogs were coming off a 64-56 loss to Alabama where they had a chance to win the ballgame in the late going.

"I really thought that we would come here and play well after our performance against Alabama," Ray said. "I thought we really played well against Alabama in all facets of the games except the turnovers. To come out here and play this way against Vanderbilt is disappointing."

The Commodores were led by Bright's 15 points. Rod Odom scored 13 and Sheldon Jeter scored 11 off the bench.

Steele led MSU with nine points.

The Bulldogs are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Lexington, Ken. Tipoff for the Kentucky game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network.

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