Mississippi State head basketball coach Ben Howland talks about his team's 76-51 win over UT-Martin

GPTV: Mississippi State head men's basketball coach Ben Howland talks about his team's 76-51 win over UT-Martin

(Article Source: MSU Media Relations) STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State tipped off the Egg Bowl weekend in commanding fashion with 76-51 win against Tennessee-Martin Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Bulldogs turned in their best defensive performance of the young year, holding the Skyhawks to 51 points, including a 12-minute stretch of only allowing six points in the second half. MSU also held a plus-16 rebounding advantage to even the record at 3-3.

“We played really well defensively,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “It is good to be back at home and playing a game against a quality opponent. UT-Martin had won just won a road game at James Madison. They run so many different sets on offense. They run them well. To be able to do that defensively is excellent for this team.

 “We have shown marked improvement on the defensive end each game. (UT-Martin) took contested shots and that was big for us. We are blocking out better.”

Gavin Ware led MSU with his second double-double of the season (22 points, 10 rebounds). Quinndary Weatherspoon had a career-high 16 points with a 6-of-6 performance from the field, a 2-of-2 performance from 3-point range and a 2-of-2 performance from the foul line. I.J. Ready was also in double figures with 10 points.

“We want to run our offense through Gavin,” Howland said. “He will be double-teamed more based on how he is playing. So the fact that he is becoming a better passer is really big for this team. We will be able to make 3-point shots even though we weren’t good from there.

“I.J. is doing a great job of communicating. It is what you want to see from the point. Q (Weatherspoon) went out there and drew a charge. That is a big play for this team.”

MSU built an early 10-6 lead on a dunk by Craig Sword. The Bulldogs would later stretch the lead to 23-14 on an offensive rebound and two free throws by Sword. UT-Martin closed within five before back-to-back baskets by Ware and Ready eased the Bulldogs out to a 36-29 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Bulldogs excelled on the defensive end and put the contest away.

After the Skyhawks closed within 38-35 on a jumper by Chandler Rowe, the Bulldogs responded with the game’s next 18 points. Continued strong play on both ends by Travis Daniels was a big key to the run.

There was also balance as Ready, Sword, Ware and Weatherspoon each scored on consecutive possessions. The Skyhawks were not able to trim the deficit again.   

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 32 of 65 shots from the field (49.2 percent), 4 of 18 shots from 3-point range (22.2 percent) and 8 of 10 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). The Skyhawks hit 22 of 55 shots from the field (40.0 percent), 5 of 17 shots from 3-point range (29.4 percent) and 2 of 6 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent).

MSU held a 43-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 17 assists and 10 turnovers, while the Skyhawks had nine assists and 12 turnovers.

UT-Martin (2-5) received 11 points from Richard Lee and Myles Taylor, as well as 10 points from Twymond Howard.

MSU will host Texas Southern at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network from the Humphrey Coliseum.

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