Last night, we saw the Mississippi State Men’s Basketball team at its highest high and lowest low. The game started with a quick turnover by Quinndary Weatherspoon and on the defensive possession, Nick Weatherspoon was put out of the game with an ankle injury. After that, the team struggled to gain momentum. Tyson Carter came off the bench to replace Nick Weatherspoon. The Bulldogs got down 16-12 early in the game after Long Beach State started 4/4 from deep while MSU was 0/9. The brightest spot in that rough start, was the team forcing turnovers to keep the game close. This is the team’s biggest strength and is something MSU can live off of.
Long Beach State was up 26-18 with 4:00 left in the 1st half, and that’s where the game completely flipped. Mississippi State finished the half on a 26-0 run to go into the locker room with a 36-28. Q Weatherspoon has finished every game so far with more than 20 points, and of course, he did it once more finishing with 21. Tyson Carter, Lamar Peters, and Aric Holman also finished with double digit points. MSU finished with 52 rebounds and outscored LBSU 61-23 from the start of their run in the first half to win 79-51. Mississippi State had more rebounds than their opponent had points.
Like I normally do, I’ll start with the negatives. I’m not sure if Nick Weatherspoon’s injury had anything to do with the lackluster start, but this is the second game in a row where Mississippi State has come out of the gates slow. Hopefully this won’t hurt the team down the road. Even though MSU had 79 points in the end, they shot 31/73 from the field, 4/23 from deep, and 13/18 from the free throw line. Mississippi State has some incredible finishers at the rim, but if they want to become one of the elite teams in the country, they have to knock down the open 3’s.
And here are the positives. This team is one of the best teams in forcing turnovers and scoring in fast break opportunities. It doesn’t matter who’s leading the charge on the fast break, the ball is most likely going in. Tyson Carter can help make this team elite by being the spark coming off the bench at the 6th man. He’s been very reliable in the first 3 games to score points(he’s averaging 13.0 points per game). If he can continue his consistent play, this will be a very fun season. Looking at the box score, the biggest number that jumps out is Reggie Perry’s 14 rebounds. An incredible performance by both freshman brought excitement at the end. Long Beach State had the ball one possession, and it looked like they were about to get an easy layup, but Robert Woodard came out of nowhere to reject the shot. He got the ball and raced down the court. Two defenders surrounded him when he entered the paint. He made an unbelievable dribble move to shift both defenders and finished with a flashy dunk. This got the entire crowd on their feet and jumping around. These freshman are just now tapping into their potential, and their future is very exciting.
The Bulldogs take on the Arizona State Sundevils on Monday in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Sundevils should give the Bulldogs a challenge, but I expect Mississippi State to come out on top and continue rolling through their non-conference schedule. MSU has the potential to be elite, but the consistency shooting the ball could be their downfall. We’ll see how they improve moving forward.