Mississippi State reaches 15 wins for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.
In the second and final game of the regular season series between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers, the Bulldogs took home the win on Senior Night, winning 88-76 in Starkville in a game that the score looks closer than what actually occurred on the court.
From the jump, the Dawgs took control by quickly getting out to a double digit lead at the under-12 timeout. I.J. Ready was dishing, Xavian Stapelton’s shot was falling, and Quinndary Weatherspoon came with an aggressive attitude after his one game absence.
In his final game inside The Hump, I.J. Ready made sure to make his impact felt.
Ready is at his best when he becomes the facilitator and decision maker for the Bulldogs. The senior was eager to penetrate into the lane, break down defenses, and dish the rock to the open man on as many possessions as possible from the opening tip. At the break, Ready was filling up the stat box with 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 assists, a big reason why the Dawgs had an 18 point lead going into the locker room.
The veteran guard brings many things to the table that does not show up in the box score, as well. His leadership and basketball IQ set the tone for the game. Ready finished with 7 points and an impressive 13 assists - the most by an SEC player all season - on his special night. The senior will be missed in The Hump, so it was good to see him leave the home floor on a high note.
Quinndary Weatherspoon is back.
It was only a one game absence, but the Bulldogs missed the play-making guard on the court. While dealing with nagging injuries all season long, Weatherspoon returned to the lineup with a highly aggressive attitude that gave the other four men on the floor energy on both offense and the defensive end. Quinndary Weatherspoon reminded everyone why he is one of the conference’s best scorers, on his way to a game high 18 points. If Weatherspoon is on his game, the Bulldogs could be a surprise in Nashville.
Xavian Stapleton is the “X” Factor.
The supremely athletic wing came out hot out of the gate, knocking down three’s, heading into halftime with 10 points. If Weatherspoon is the team’s star, Stapleton is the team’s X-factor. Stapleton brings a ton of athleticism to a young team that needs any spark it can get. His insane athleticism and high level effort adds an extra dimension to the basketball team. From his three point shooting and high-flying dunks to his high energy defense, the Madison Central alum made his presence felt on the game. Stapleton has the chance to be a reason why State makes a run in the SEC Tournament.
Dawgs and Tigers set to Battle, again.
Mississippi State and LSU return to action in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday.
Mississippi State has won both contests this season, but there will be a third match up between the two teams in the first round of the SEC Tournament next week. Saturday’s win gave life to the Bulldogs, ending their seven game losing streak and creating some much-needed momentum heading into postseason play.
Mississippi State (15-15, 6-13) is set as the 11th seed in the conference and will take on the Tigers again in Game 1 of the SEC Tournament at 6 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday.