Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State men's basketball loses to Miami 105-79

SAN JUAN, P.R. - A hot-shooting first half by Miami proved too much for the Mississippi State men's basketball team to overcome. (Source: Mississippi State Media Relations)

Miami topped the 100-point mark for the first time since 2004 with a 105-79 over the Bulldogs Thursday night in the opening-round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic.

MSU (1-2) returns to action Friday with a 4 p.m. start against either Utah or Texas Tech. That contest will be televised nationally by ESPNU.

Miami (3-0) stretched a 19-11 lead with a 23-8 run over a four-minute stretch in the first half. The Hurricanes stretched the lead to 59-35 at halftime. The Bulldogs allowed 100 points for the first time since a 2012 loss to Massachusetts in the National Invitation Tournament.

"Miami is really good and we knew that coming in," MSU head coach Ben Howland said. "Their point guard play is really good. They took it right to us. We struggled to defend in the first half. Staying in front of the ball was difficult for us. We have to get better at ball screen defense. We have to do a better job of staying between our man and the basket.

"Our kids fought hard. I like how we competed and didn't back down. We lost to a veteran team. We just have to be much better on the defensive end."

In the opening half, Miami started on fire by hitting 9 of its first 10 shots from the field. The Hurricanes hit 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range in the opening half and shot 62.5 percent overall from the field. Miami also held a 19-0 advantage in points off turnovers, as the Bulldogs only forced three turnovers in that half.

Both Gavin Ware and Craig Sword turned in solid offensive performance for the Bulldogs. Ware had 20 points on a 10 of 15 night from the floor. Sword had 20 points on a 6 of 12 night from the floor. In his second appearance, freshman Malik Newman had 15 points. Ware had a team-high five rebounds on a night where the Bulldogs struggled on the boards.

The Bulldogs played better on the defensive end in the second half and closed within 19 at 65-46 on a dunk by Sword. Newman has basket to create an 18-point deficit while a trey by Johnny Zuppardo had the team within 79-60 with 10:42 left.

"Our defense has a long way to go to compete in this type of game," Howland said. "We told the team this was an NCAA Tournament team. Now our freshmen know what a tournament team looks like. We sent them to the line 38 times. That is too many. We allowed 57 percent shooting. That is way too high."

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 30 of 66 shots from the field (45.5 percent), 9 of 22 shots from 3-point range (40.9 percent) and 10 of 15 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Hurricanes hit 34 of 60 shots from the field (56.7 percent), 9 of 17 shots from 3-point range (52.9 percent) and 28 of 38 shots from the foul line (73.7 percent).

Miami held a 41-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Hurricanes had 20 assists and 11 turnovers.

Miami received a team-high 18 points from Sheldon McClellan, who was in one of seven in double figures for the victors.

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