STARKVILLE – Mississippi State won 10 games during Rick Ray’s initial season in 2012-13.
The Bulldogs have already reached that total this year thanks to a 77-63 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday night in their final outing before conference play begins.
“I think it was a good win for us just to get to that milestone 10th win,” Ray said. “When you consider the fact we only won 10 games last year and we were able to do that in January. We didn’t win our 10th game until March last year.”
MSU (10-3) worked effectively inside, getting 51 points and 30 rebounds and no fouls from its frontcourt of Colin Borchert, Gavin Ware and Roquez Johnson.
Borchert had a career-high 22 points and scored 20 of those points in the second half. He finished 7-of-12 from the field and added five rebounds and five assists.
“We had no intensity from the jump of the ball like we didn’t really want to be out there,” Borchert said. “The biggest thing is that we came out after halftime with intensity. We might not make all our shots but we had to go out there and do our best. I went out there and played hard.”
Ware’s big night
Ware had a double-double by halftime and ended the evening with 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. It was the fifth double-double of the year for the Starkville native.
“When coach started to see that we could get the ball in the post and that I came to play, he said we were going to try to get the ball inside,” Ware said. “The last few games I’ve been dry, so he decided that’s the type of plays we were going to run.”
Fred Thomas added 10 points for the Bulldogs returning to the starting lineup following Dre Applewhite’s transfer earlier this week. State’s leading scorer, Craig Sword, had only three field goal attempts and finished with three points.
“I think it says a lot about the fact we were able to win a game like this without Chicken (Sword) contributing a lot on the offensive end,” Ray said. “He’s always going to be a major part of our offense because even if he’s not scoring, people are going to concentrate on him because of his ability to get into the paint.”
Maryland Eastern Shore dropped its eight straight game falling to 2-10 on the year. KyRee Jones led the Hawks with 18 points followed by Issac Smith III with 15 points and Devon Walker with 11.
The Bulldogs begin conference play on the road Wednesday night at Kentucky.