Last night, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs faced off against the Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena. The Dawgs came into the game 14-5, as did the Wildcats. Kentucky was an obvious favorite going into the game. Although, the Wildcats had lost two straight prior to last night.
Mississippi State started off great. Quinndary Weatherspoon, at times, showed some serious offensive skill. Q finished the game with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. To be quite honest, those numbers aren’t rare for him. Q has continued to average over 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Besides Q, there wasn’t much offensive input. The next leading scorer was Q’s brother, Nick Weatherspoon, who finished with 10 points. There were times where I thought Tyson Carter was about to get hot, but continued to take contested three’s. Our big guys played a decent game, but Ado, Holman, and Stapleton only had 14 points combined.
Defensively, the team played well. This team knows that if they are going to pull out a tough SEC road game they are going to have to hold their opponent under 70 points. The final score was 78-65, but the score doesn’t show how close this game actually was. The Dawgs never went down by more than 8 until late in the second half and trailed by 1 or 2 points for most of the game.
Ben Howland, now in his 3rd season with Mississippi State, cannot seem to get this team to play a full 2 halves. Is it because we continue to have a poor 3-point shooting percentage? Is it the offensive game plan? Is it a lack of depth coming off the bench? It’s probably a mixture of all of these things, but something has got to change. It all starts with Howland. Yes, the players have to finish, but Howland has to gain control of his team.
This season has been a tail of two halves for nearly every game that we have lost. We continue to start off hot against solid competition, but regress in the second half or vice versa. Against Alabama we started off extremely slow and found a way to fight back, but it was too late. When playing Auburn, Mississippi State was up 9 at the half and could not get a rhythm back in the second half. Now Kentucky, great first half play, but we slowly lost composure midway through the second half. This team has to become more disciplined if they want any chance of competing in the SEC this year.