MSU grabs first SEC road win at Missouri

Mississippi State's Fred Thomas celebrates a basket during the second half. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Mississippi State’s Fred Thomas celebrates a basket during the second half. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon’s first double-double of his Mississippi State career proved large as the Bulldogs grabbed a Southeastern Conference road win Saturday night.

Playing short-handed with Gavin Ware left home due to concussion symptoms, Weatherspoon, Malik Newman and Aric Holman gave the Bulldogs three freshmen in the starting lineup. The formula worked as MSU knocked off Missouri 76-62 in the Mizzou Arena.

The victory snapped an eight-game conference losing streak on the road and was MSU’s first road win since winning in this building 77-74 a year ago. The victory was the largest margin of victory for the Bulldogs in a conference road game since an 83-64 win at Auburn on Feb. 9, 2008.

MSU improved to 9-11 overall and 2-6 in league play, while Missouri fell to 8-13 and 1-7.

“This was a great road win for us,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said. “We didn’t prepare at all to play zone but it didn’t make sense not to with only eight players. Missouri simply didn’t shoot the ball well. That was the biggest difference in the game. Travis Daniels really stepped up. I am proud of him. He got back into the starting lineup and delivered.

“Our two freshmen (Weatherspoon and Newman) were spectacular. We didn’t have Gavin and I.J. (Ready) basically played on one ankle. I am excited for our team. It is always great to be able to go on the road and win a conference game.”

Newman led the Bulldogs with 19 points, while Weatherspoon added 18 points. Also in double figures were Craig Sword with 15 points and Travis Daniels with a had a conference-game season 13 points.

Weatherspoon had 14 rebounds, including eight offensive boards, to complete his first double-double wearing Maroon and White. Slowed by an ankle injury, Ready logged 22 minutes, with no points but seven rebounds, an assist and a steal. Sword had five assists and five rebounds.

A Weatherspoon 3-pointer started the contest and the Bulldogs never trailed. MSU rode its early offensive success to a 20-9 lead, thanks in part to treys by Newman and Daniels during a 9-0 run.

With limited depth inside, the Bulldogs opened in a zone and saw success on the defensive end. Missouri was 0 for 13 from 3-point range in the opening half.

“We simply had to play zone,” Howland said. “We had to stay out of foul trouble with our limited bench. Missouri has been shooting 31 percent from 3 as a team. We simply wanted to see if they could make shots against our zone.”

The Bulldogs built a 16-point lead at 32-16 on a layup by Weatherspoon with 2:13 left before the break. MSU would stretch the lead to 19 before leading 37-20 at halftime.

In the second half, Missouri had more success against the zone but the deficit proved way too much to overcome.

A 3-pointer by Newman ran the lead to a game-best 50-28 advantage with 16:07 left. A 9-0 run by the Tigers brought the home team within 13 at 52-39.

Missouri would later cut the lead to 10 at 55-45 with 11:42 left. However, the Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure and got consecutive scores from Weatherspoon, Fred Thomas and Johnny Zuppardo to move back out of danger.

For the contest, MSU hit 28 of 61 shots from the field (45.9 percent), 8 of 23 shots from 3-point range (34.8 percent) and 12 of 19 shots from the foul line (63.2 percent). Missouri hit 23 of 62 shots from the field (37.1 percent), 2 of 25 shots from 3-point range (8.0 percent) and 14 of 18 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent).

MSU held a 43-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 13 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Tigers had 11 assists and 10 turnovers.

Missouri received 16 points from Namon Wright, 11 points from Jakeenan Gant and 10 points from Terrence Phillips. Wright also had a team-high nine rebounds.

MSU returns home for a Tuesday contest with Alabama. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide tip at 8 p.m. from the Humphrey Coliseum with the game being broadcast nationally on the SEC Network.

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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