STARKVILLE – Ben Howland‘s debut in front of the home crowd was a successful one as the new Mississippi State coach led the Bulldogs to a 95-56 exhibition victory over Fort Valley State.
MSU actually trailed 13-12 at the second media timeout but finished the first half on a 35-14 run sparked by true freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the opening half.
The Bulldogs shot 53.6 percent from the field led by I.J. Ready with 17 points. Craig Sword (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Johnny Zuppardo (12 points, 10 rebounds) each notched a double-double while Gavin Ware scored 12 points and Fred Thomas added 11.
“Tonight we had six players in double figures and that’s a beautiful thing to have that type of balance spread out,” Howland said. “I.J. was terrific tonight with 17 points, nine assists and only had two turnovers.”
Injuries kept Malik Newman, Aric Holman and Joe Strugg out of the exhibition.
Fort Valley State, a Division II school from Georgia coming off a 4-23 season, shot 35 percent and was led by Tyler Edwards with 10 points.
MSU opens the season Friday hosting Eastern Washington.