STARKVILLE – After Gavin Ware went 4-for-4 from the field against Kennesaw State last week, Mississippi State coach Rick Ray emphasized that his sophomore center needed more touches in the paint.
Ray’s message was heard loud and clear Tuesday night as Ware finished with a career-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in a 94-72 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Bulldogs are 3-0.
“My confidence is through the roof,” Ware said. “Once you put up big numbers like that, you feel like you can conquer anything. But the one thing I have to remember is to not get big-headed. I have to keep a level mind and continue to grow and mature with my teammates.”
Ware finished 8-of-11 from the field, finishing with his second double-double of the season and fourth of his career. The Starkville native has had double digits rebounds in each game this year.
MSU shot 52.2 percent from the floor.
Colin Borchert scored 14 points and Roquez Johnson added 12 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Craig Sword chipped in 10 first-half points but sat most of the second half after picking up an early technical foul.
“He got a technical foul and you just can’t do things like that,” Ray said. “It’s unnecessary and if he’s going to get technical fouls then he’s not going to play for us. He knows that.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 44-29 lead by halftime led by as many as 27 points in the second half.
“We came out aggressive and got stops early,” Trivante Bloodman said. “We got into transition and were scoring baskets. Everybody was scoring baskets so we started out great.”
Mississippi Valley State (1-3) shot 47.5 percent for the game and was led by 19 points from DeAngelo Priar. Former Aberdeen standout Anthony McDonald added 12 points for the Delta Devils while James Currington chipped in 10.
“We have to do a better job defensively,” Ray said. “They had some quick little water bugs that are hard to stay in front of but I didn’t think we pressured them. We played off of them and they were still getting by us. We’ve got to do a better job of guarding the basketball.”
The Bulldog hit the road for the first time Saturday, traveling to Utah State for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff.