Mississippi State was down 9 to 2 in the first three and a half minutes of the ball game but came back to take a lead with about thirteen minutes left in the first half.
The Bulldogs led the Flames by one, 36-35, at halftime.
The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the second half to take a ten-point lead only to see the Flames go on a 13 to 4 run to pull to within one.
The Bulldogs then went on a 8 to 5 run to extend their lead to 4 only to see the Flames come right back and score the next eight points to take their first lead of the second half.
From that point on, the lead shifted back and forth.
After committing 24 turnovers in the first 38 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs, down by 1 at the time, did not commit another turnover the remaining two minutes of the game. During that same period they converted 6 of 7 free throw attempts to seal the three-point victory. Michael Gholar, who scored all of his points in the second half, made three of the free throws.
"I thought the first half Michael Gholar didn't give us a whole lot," Stansbury. "We challenged him at halftime. We had to have him step up. And I thought he gave us what we needed from our captain."
Mississippi State shot 54% from the field while UIC shot 44%. MSU committed 24 turnovers to the University of Illinois-Chicago's 8. Mississippi State outrebounded UIC 48 to 20.
"The only thing we did to offset (the turnovers) was we beat them on the backboards really bad and we shot a high percentage," commented Stansbury. "Those two things offset the turnovers. The turnovers came from not being really mentally sharp. They were really quick. Sometimes you have to find ways to win a ballgame. This team needs a little rest."
UIC was led in scoring by Cedric Banks with 20.
Mississippi State was led in scoring by Mario Austin with 16. Austin, who had to sit out almost all of the first half due to foul trouble, also tied Michael Gholar for most rebounds by a Bulldog with 10. Other Bulldogs who scored in double figures included Marckell Patterson and Timmy Bowers with 11 apiece and Derrick Zimmerman with 10. Zimmerman also contributed 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 blocked shot and 1 steal. He also committed 3 turnovers.
"There is no question that (Zimmerman) is very consistent and is playing very hard for us," said Coach Stansbury. "Defensively, he is making plays."
Austin, who was replaced by freshman Marcus Campbell (4 points) in the first half, scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
"We played basically the entire first half without Mario," Stansbury said. "I believe he played about 4 and a half minutes in the first half. We played him the entire second half and he was a force around the hole for us. He went to war for us. We went with Marcus Campbell tonight because we felt he came in and gave us a spark (against Cincinnati). We were pleased with the effort he gave us tonight. He caught the ball and finished his plays. He did some very positive things."
Mississippi State now takes a break for Christmas. Their next game will be Saturday, December 29th, when they take on the Tulane Green Wave in New Orleans. Game time is set for 2 p.m.
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Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.