The Kennesaw State Owl raced ahead to a four-point lead in the first part of the opening half Tuesday night in Starkville, but a three-pointer by Fred Thomas eleven minutes into the game tied the score and a Thomas free throw 30 seconds later put the Mississippi State Bulldogs ahead in a game they would eventually win 78-55.
While the Bulldogs secured a 23-point victory, they only led 35-31 going into the locker room at the half. The Owls shot lights out early in the game, knocking down eight of their first ten shots to take the lead, but, foul trouble and turnovers proved to be too much for Kennesaw State to overcome to try to sustain the upset bid.
The Owls saw three players foul out, while the Bulldogs did not lose anyone in the contest. More importantly, the Bulldogs only turned the ball over 12 times compared to the 26 committed by Kennesaw State, and the Bulldogs turned those turnovers into 27 points.
Mississippi State coach Rick Ray felt having more assists (16) than turnovers played a significant role in the Bulldogs' win, and it is something he would like to see continue to happen.
"That's been rare for us," said Ray after the game. "That's not the way it should be. We should have a positive assist to turn over ratio."
Thomas led the scoring for the Bulldogs, picking up 17 points in the contest on 6-14 shooting. Gavin Ware (10), Colin Borchert (15), Craig Sword (13), Trivante Bloodman (11), and Roquez Johnson (10) also reached double digits in the contest. For Thomas, the game marked his debut to the 2013-2014 season after serving a one-game suspension for participating in a charity game.
Yonel Brown, the only Owl to reach double figures, led Kennesaw State (1-4) with 15 points.
On the boards, both teams hauled in 33 rebounds, with Ware's ten rebounds marking the high total for the contest.
Mississippi State improved to 2-0 on the season, and the Bulldogs will host Mississippi Valley State Tuesday at the Humphrey Coliseum before heading on the road to face Utah State in Logan, Utah on Nov. 23.