CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Mississippi State found the road to its liking Friday night.
Playing away from home for the first time this season, Mississippi State routed St. Louis 75-50 in the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge. The Bulldogs shot 55.6 percent from the floor and were never threatened after scoring the game’s first nine points.
MSU (5-0) faces TCU (6-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in the championship game televised nationally by CBS Sports Network.
“Our goal was to come out and shock them with our pace of play,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “We have lot of guys who can bring the ball up the court fast. When we are in transition like that, we can get some uncontested shots from 3-point range.
“We shot the ball really well. We also shared the ball so it was an all-around good night.”
MSU began the offensive assault early. Fred Thomas hit two 3-points and Travis Daniels hit another as the Bulldogs sprinted to a 9-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.
It was the beginning of a big night for red-shirt junior Daniels, who hit 8-of-11 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 shots from 3-point range, for a career-high 21 points.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 26-13 on three consecutive baskets from Gavin Ware.
St. Louis (3-2) ended the half on a 9-1 run to pull within 37-27 at the intermission.
The Billikens pulled within seven at 42-35 with 16:54 left in the contest. MSU followed with an 18-2 run to open a 60-37 advantage with 8:50 left in the contest.
“Travis played well,” Ray said. “Gavin may be our best shooter and he had a great night. You have to like the effort of players like Oliver Black and Maurice Dunlap. They work so hard in practice every day and that is why they earn the minutes. They made some solid contributions.”
The Bulldogs also got a lift from junior Craig Sword, who played for the first time this season. While Sword did not score in the contest, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer from a year ago logged 11 minutes.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 30 of 54 shots from the field (55.6 percent), 8 of 17 shots from 3-point range (47.1 percent) and 7 of 9 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent). The Billikens hit 20 of 55 shots from the field (36.4 percent), 5 of 20 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 5 of 13 shots from the foul line (38.5 percent).
MSU held a 39-24 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 17 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Billikens had four assists and 11 turnovers.
Ware finished with 16 points, while Thomas added 14 points. Daniels had a team-high six rebounds, while IJ Ready had a team-high five assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes of action.
St. Louis received 10 points from Austin McBroom.
(From MSU Media Relations)