By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State hit at an all-time low Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs suffered their worst margin of defeat in the 38-year history of Humphrey Coliseum, falling 78-36 to Missouri in front of 4,721 fans, many of whom were gone before it ended.
The previous worst loss was by 41 points to Vanderbilt in 1993. The ignominious history was made when freshman Corey Haith, son of Missouri head coach Frank Haith, buried a 3-pointer with under a minute left.
This was also MSU’s lowest point total since being held to 36 by George Washington on Dec. 8, 1996.
It was the ninth consecutive loss for MSU (7-16, 2-9 SEC), its longest losing streak since 1987. Wednesday’s setback also assured the program’s first losing season since 1999-2000, when the Bulldogs went 14-16.
“I didn’t think we played great defense tonight, but I thought the root of all our problems was on the offensive end,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “We were totally inept there in the first half, and they were able to get out in transition a lot because we just couldn’t score.”
MSU missed 15 of its first 16 shots, including the first 11, and shot 16 percent in the first half. It finished the game shooting 23.9 percent from the field, including 3 of 19 from 3-point range.
Missouri led 34-10 at halftime.
Mizzou guard Keion Bell found open lanes to the bucket early and scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. He shot 10 of 16 from the field, and Missouri (18-6, 7-4) hit 53.4 percent overall, 45 percent from 3-point range.
Jabari Brown added 20 points.
“It wasn’t necessarily so much what I saw with the defense,” Bell said, “that’s just my game and how I try to play, find driving lanes and drive as much as possible.”
Point guard Phil Pressey ran the Mizzou show, dishing out eight assists. MSU had three assists as a team.
“Defensively we kept letting Phil Pressey get into the lane, and he was creating for the team, and that put us in a hole,” said MSU point guard Trivante Bloodman, who scored a team-leading 13 points.
Missouri won its first road game of the season in six tries.
MSU found a little offense in the second half and got within 42-23, but then Brown scored nine consecutive points, including a four-point play, to make it 51-23.
Missouri dominated on the boards, 46-25, and outscored MSU in the paint, 40-14.
A lot of season remains for State, and this young team has to find a way to motivate itself.
“One of our coaches said we’ve still got seven more games left, whether we like it or not,” center Gavin Ware said. “We’ve still got to just keep playing.”