Bulldogs survive pesky Tigers

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoBy Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State had plenty to be thankful for on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs (4-1) survived a scare from Jackson State, 58-56, to win their sixth straight game inside Humphrey Coliseum – a streak that dates back to last season.

“I said right before the game that I wanted to play with enthusiasm, excitement and energy,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “We had none of those and Jackson State had all of them. We came out and didn’t attack right away and weren’t excited about playing the game of basketball. That’s the thing that disappoints me the most.”

MSU shot just 28-percent from the field in the first half and trailed 28-23 at the break. But after a stern lecture from Ray, the Bulldogs responded by knocking down 62 percent of their shots in the second half snapping a streak of 20 straight losses when trailing at halftime.

“We didn’t approach the game like we were supposed to,” said sophomore guard Craig Sword. “We came out playing soft and kept taking a lot of 3s and that wasn’t our game. Before the second half, coach wore us out in the locker room and we came out and played our game.”

Stars go cold

At halftime, the Bulldogs’ top three scorers – Gavin Ware, Colin Borchert and Sword – had combined for just two points.

“I thought Jackson State did a real good job packing it in and making us shoot 3s,” Ray said. “We changed that in the second half. I gave a mandate to our guys that if they shoot a 3 they are coming out of the game.”

Sword went scoreless in the first half and played just eight minutes due to foul trouble. But he responded with 12 points in the final half to lead the Bulldogs in scoring on 5-of-10 shooting.

Fred Thomas and Roquez Johnson each added 11 points, helping to extend MSU’s record to 5-0 all-time against Jackson State.

The Tigers (2-5) shot 37 percent for the game, led by former Arkansas transfer Julysses Nobles with 22 points. Brandon West added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebouds.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com