STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mario Austin and Derrick Zimmerman combined for 22 points while the Mississippi State defense held visiting Alabama A&M (1-2) to a paltry 29.3 percent shooting effort from the field as homestanding Mississippi State (5-0) remained unbeaten with a 70-45 victory Wednesday evening in Humphrey Coliseum.

Austin used a 4-7 shooting performance from the field to score a game-high 12 points, while Zimmerman rode the shoulders of a 5-5 effort en route to 10 points on the night. Junior Michal Ignerski recorded a career-high nine points and nine rebounds in his first career start for MSU. Nigel Moore scored 10 points off the bench to pace Alabama A&M.

With the victory, State moved to a perfect 3-0 against Alabama A&M, outscoring their Normal, Ala., foes by an average of 29.7 points. The Bulldogs have not trailed in four home contests this season and, with the 25-point win Wednesday night, improved their scoring margin to an impressive +23.6 on the campaign.

"We came ready to play tonight," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. "They broke our rhythm early when they went to the delay offense and we had six-straight trips in which we didn't score. That hurt us, but in the second half we reestablished ourselves early.

"We are pleased with the starts of the halves. This team jumps out at the start of the half, where last year we seemed to fall behind. We're 5-0, but we've got a long way to go."

After grappling with Alabama A&M down the stretch of the first half, State used a 13-2 run to begin the second frame and push its lead to 25 with 14:31 remaining in the contest. Alabama A&M used a myriad of Mississippi State turnovers over the next three minutes of play to get to within 18, but the hosts utilized a pair of dunks and a short jumper to get the momentum back and push its lead out to 26 points with 6:02 left.

Alabama A&M flirted with the notion of bringing its deficit to within 20 with under three minutes remaining on a pair of free throws by Garik Nicholson, but Brandon Carr's three-point play with 27 seconds left pushed the lead out to a game-high 27 points.

"We ran up against a very good basketball team," said Alabama A&M head coach L. Vann Pettaway. "Mississippi State is the best team that we've seen all year. The Bulldogs here have more weapons. They came out and asserted themselves in the first half and sent us a message in the first five minutes of the game. After we dug that hole, we never got out of it."

Mississippi State scored the first 20 points of the game and threatened to put the game away early before Rodney Kellum got his team off the mark with a bucket at the 13:36 and ignited the visitors on an 11-4 run that brought Alabama A&M to within 11, 24-13, on a Terry Horton tip-in at the 6:41 mark. The visiting Bulldogs gave Mississippi State all it could handle down the stretch of the opening stanza, but MSU scored the final four points of the half to take a 14-point lead into the break.

The Bulldogs will return to action on Sunday afternoon when they close out a two-game homestand by hosting South Alabama in a non-conference tilt in Humphrey Coliseum. The game is slated for a 2 p.m. start time.

Hayes 2-5 0-0 4, Nicholson 1-8 2-3 4, Smith 0-2 1-2 1, Jones 1-2 1-1 3, Cambridge 3-17 0-0 7, Walker 1-5 0-1 2, Ricketts 0-0 0-0 0, Ward 2-9 1-4 5, Moore 4-5 1-1 10, Horton 2-4 1-2 6, Burks 0-0 0-0 0, Kellum 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 17-58 7-15 45.
Gholar 3-4 2-2 9, Ignerski 3-6 2-2 9, Austin 4-7 4-5 12, Zimmerman 5-5 0-3 10, Patterson 2-6 2-2 7, Campbell 1-2 0-0 2, Gardner 0-2 0-0 0, Bowers 1-3 0-0 3, Stidham 0-0 0-1 0, Frazier 2-3 0-0 4, Harper 2-6 0-0 4, Carr 2-2 1-1 6, Smith 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 27-50 11-16 70.
Halftime - Mississippi State 32, Alabama A&M 18. Fouled Out - Gholar. Rebounds - Alabama A&M 31 (Walker 8), Mississippi State 42 (Ignerski 9). Assists - Alabama A&M 6 (Cambridge 3), Mississippi State 12 (Zimmerman 6). Total Fouls - Alabama A&M 19, Mississippi State 19.
A - 2,667.

Gene's Page Top Stories