Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

State Takes Third-Straight Win on Hot Outside Offense

STARKVILLE -- It isn’t Ben Howland’s offensive preference. But when the long balls are falling, the coach will let his Bulldogs keep firing.

Mississippi State threw in 13 three-point goals, almost half of them by guard Lamar Peters, in Sunday’s 82-60 win over visiting Georgia State. The Bulldogs have a three-win streak going and are 6-2. The Panthers left Humphrey Coliseum 4-3.

They likely left with visions of a guy in the ‘1’ jersey still shooting. Freshman Peters owned the day, or at least the first half when he scorched off 14 consecutive points en route to his game-best 24. All of it was in his off-the-bench role, too.

“I just wanted to let the game come to me,” Peters said. “And if I had open shots knock them down.”

Peters had them; and he knocked them down. In just 26 minutes he went 9-of-12 with 6-of-9 beyond the arc.

“When he gets the adrenalin going the shot gets better because he gets more lift,” Howland said.

Peters was just the lift State needed. Georgia State wasn’t shy about shooting from long range either and by 14:00 had a 16-10 lead with a pair of made treys. A tight Panther zone caused problems for forward Aric Holman inside, and guard Quinndary Weatherspoon picked up two fast charging calls.

Those fouls hurt Georgia State far worse. When Weatherspoon checked out, Peters checked in at 13:04. In less than a minute he hit a two-pointer for the tie. It was a while longer before he took a shot as teammates missed from the arc.

Peters didn’t. He drilled his first trey at 9:50, added another from the opposite side thirty ticks later. None of it was forced. “Coach Howland always tells me be patient. That’s what I tried to do.” It only looked like he was in a hurry, hammering home two more before other Dogs got involved with the offense.

Such as Weatherspoon with his own trey, followed as the half wound down by guards IJ Ready and Mario Kegler. Even center Schnider Herard added an old-style three-point play as Mississippi State charged in front 44-36 at the half.

And this was as close as the Panthers would see in the second period as Herard hit a two-pointer to begin it. Peters had to cool down but the heat was transferred to Kegler and Weatherspoon, even Ready as all four finished in double-digits.

Kegler, playing outside on offense more than baseline, scored 16 with 4-of-8 arc accuracy over the zone. Weatherspoon was good for 14 with two treys and Ready added 11 with five assists. While Georgia State did a lot of half- and full-court pressuring, the Bulldogs forced many more turnovers and out-scored the visitors 20 to nine in these transition chances. The Panthers didn’t get any fastbreak points, in fact.

Guard Isaiah Williams had 16 points with four threes, and Justin Seymour scored 10 off the bench. Georgia State wasn’t bad at the arc, 6-of-19.

It was just that the Bulldogs were more productive with 13 treys, the most since 2010. True, those came on 34 tries which was ‘just’ 38% accuracy, against 32 shots taken inside the arc. Nor did the home team get to the foul line often as they stayed outside.

As long as the Panthers wanted to drop into a zone though, State was willing and again able to shoot well over it. This outburst came after Thursday’s 11-trey night against Oregon State.

“That’s a fantastic win,” Howland said. “It doesn’t feel like we won by 22 to me! So I’m really happy how we played today.”

Howland is even happier his squad now has a break until playing again December 14. It’s not really a break for the players as they have five days of final exams ahead. Howland even noted that a bunch of his Dogs were heading home to cram for Monday morning tests.

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