By Logan Lowery
NASHVILLE – Mississippi State began both the first and second half with a turnover.
It was a trend the Bulldogs would continue throughout Saturday’s 55-49 loss at Vanderbilt. MSU committed 18 turnovers against a Commodores zone defense, which led to 24 points on the other end.
“There’s really no reason to turn the ball over 18 times in a game against a team that’s not pressuring at all,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “I thought they were more unforced turnovers.”
It is the third consecutive loss for the Bulldogs, who fall to 13-8 overall and 3-5 in league play. State is now 0-5 on the road this season, including four league losses.
“We haven’t had success on the road and obviously playing the No. 3 ranked team in the country (Florida) at home, so there was an anticipation you might go through a tough stretch here,” Ray said. “What you’ve got to do as a coach and as a team is to go out and find a way to have some success and get yourself out of this rut.”
Things began well enough for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State jumped out to an 8-2 advantage and had a strong start from Fred Thomas. Thomas scored the Bulldogs first 10 points after being shutout by Florida on Thursday.
“I just got into the flow of the game,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to leave that Florida game in the past. Today I wanted to come out aggressive for my team and come out scoring and playing defense.”
But the lead quickly dissipated as the Commodores continued to cash in on MSU turnovers. Vandy took a 25-21 lead into the locker room scoring 16 points off 11 Bulldog miscues in the opening half.
The Commodores (12-8, 4-4) shot 55 percent in the second half to claim their third consecutive win.
Rod Odom led Vanderbilt with 18 points including four 3-pointers. Kyle Fuller added 14 points and Damian Jones scored 13.
Thomas was the lone Bulldog in double figures with 16.
State will travel to Texas A&M on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CSS.