FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Early offensive struggles proved too much for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team to overcome Saturday afternoon.
Held to two field goals in the first half, MSU competed hard but still fell 61-41 in Southeastern Conference action at Bud Walton Arena.
With the win, Arkansas improved to 18-5 overall and 7-3 in league play. MSU saw a two-game win streak snapped while falling to 11-12 and 4-6.
“We simply did give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame with that first half performance,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “We weren’t bad defensively but we spent the half chasing down our turnovers. In the second half, we shared the ball better. Sometimes guys have to fail to see the right way to play.
“We have enough veteran guys that that shouldn’t happen. Hopefully, our guys know better now what we have to do to be better on the offensive end.”
In the opening half, the Bulldogs hit 2 of 21 shots from the field for 9 percent shooting. The Bulldogs were held without a field goal for the final 14 minutes, 40 seconds of the opening half.
Arkansas pulled away from a 7-7 tie by scoring the game’s next 20 points.
A pair of I.J. Ready free throws stopped the run. Arkansas carried a 30-9 lead into the locker room at halftime.
A jumper by Fred Thomas brought the Bulldogs within 15 points at 39-24 with 11:38 left. MSU would get within 15 on two other occasions but could get no closer.
For the contest, MSU hit 14 of 45 shots from the field (31.1 percent), 0 of 10 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 13 of 20 shots from the foul line (65.0). Arkansas hit 24 of 64 shots from the field (37.5 percent), 5 of 22 shots from 3-point range (22.7 percent) and 8 of 11 shots from the foul line (72.7 percent).
MSU held a 42-34 rebounding advantage. MSU had eight assists and 24 turnovers, while Arkansas had 14 assists and 11 turnovers.
“Turnovers fuel the Arkansas offense,” Ray said. “We had 14 of those in the first half. Arkansas is a good NCAA tournament team and they have a great home-court advantage. We helped them way too much there in the first half.”
Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Arkansas received 19 points from Bobby Portis and 12 points from Anthlon Bell.
MSU will host Alabama at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The game will be televised nationally by the SEC Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)