However, Mississippi State (19-7, 6-6 SEC) didn't let that bother them as they took a quick 11-2 lead after four minutes had run off the clock in the first half.
Using a barrage of three-pointers, MSU would increase that lead to 32-7 with 7:52 remaining on the first half clock. During one seven and a half minute span, MSU made a total of seven shots, six of which were three-pointers. Senior Marckell Patterson would lead the charge with four threes. During the first half, MSU made 9-of-14 from the three-point range for a 64.3% shooting percentage.
While State seemed to hit just about everything they threw up during the first half, including three pointers, Auburn seemed to hit nothing but iron, making just 9 of 25 shots for a 36% field goal percentage.
Due to their excellent shooting, MSU carried a 44-24 lead into the half.
Unlike their effort in the LSU where they led by 15 at halftime, but wound up losing by three in overtime, the Bulldogs never allowed the Tigers to cut into the lead. They expanded it by 22 within the first minute of the second half and continued to expand it for the duration of the second half. In fact, after the Bulldogs went ahead by 30 with 9:20 to go in the second half, that was the closet the Tigers would get the rest of the way.
MSU was led in scoring by sophomore Timmy Bowers with 16 points. Other Bulldogs in double figures included Patterson with 12, sophomore Mario Austin and junior Derrick Zimmerman with 11 and junior Michael Ignerski with 10. Austin had a career-high 14 rebounds, while Zimmerman recorded 9 assists and 3 steals. He also added 6 rebounds during his 25 minutes of playing time. Freshman center Marcus Campbell, playing 11 minutes, recorded 9 rebounds.
Auburn had just two players score in in double figures, Adam Harrington with 15 and Lewis Monroe with 11.
MSU outrebounded Auburn by 23 (48 to 25). During their two games against Auburn this season, MSU outrebounded them 93 to 53. MSU shot 51.6% from the field, while Auburn shot just 38.8%. Ten MSU players played 11 or more minutes during the game.
Prior to yesterday's game, Auburn's largest margin of defeat in an SEC game was 23 to Tennessee in Knoxville. Don't let that fool you, though, because Auburn has played well in the SEC, despite their poor record (3-9 SEC). Of their nine defeats, six have been by 8 or less points.
A total of 6,278 fans attended the game.
Mississippi State now travels to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores in a 7 p.m. Wednesday game.
"I am very pleased with the team effort, bouncing back well after a very difficult situation. It tells you a lot about the character that these young men have. I thought defending and rebounding in the first half we just didn't give Auburn any looks. I thought we played with tremendous energy, did all the little things that we had to do. We really beat them on the backboards very badly. Anytime you come out and shoot the basketball the way we shot it, good things are going to happen.
"I thought that (Derrick) Zimmerman was a step quicker than anybody on the floor today. It was a special effort by him.
"I know that Cliff (Ellis) is going through some tough times with some young kids even though he is coming off two great wins. They had been playing very well and I'm sure today they didn't play their basketball. He will get that team going again."
Were you curious how your team would react after the gut-wrenching loss to LSU last Wednesday?
"I guess you are always curious, but, for the most part, this team has always responded well. We came back Thursday and had a talk about it. We had to get it out of our system. After that, we put it behind us. It was done; it's over. This team understands the mission, the journey of staying focused and staying within the game plan."
Talk about Marckell Patterson's play.
"I pulled the starters out in the second half. (Marckell) was one of those. I think he played five or six minutes in the second. He had it going."
Talk about the second half play of your team.
"We came out in the second half and did what you had to do. The thing we were looking for during the second half was to keep playing and forget the score. I think our kids came out in the second half and played with the same energy (as in the first half). That is why the score got totally out of hand in the second half."
Were you the one who taught Marcus Campbell to dribble down the court like he did in the game (smile on the reports face)?
(Laugh) "If I did, I may de-teach him (smiled). Campbell has great skills and is going to be a terrific player in time. Marcus has come a long way as a freshman this year. It is a tough adjustment for him. In the SEC, it is tough to put a young man in there when the game is tight. I wish we could put him in there 15 to 20 minutes every night, but we can't do that. Give Marcus another spring, summer and fall of weights and maturing mentally, and he will be terrific."
Talk about Mario Austin making his free throws during the game after missing so many this season.
"I promise you those young men don't miss free throws on purpose. It hurts them more than anybody. Those two young men (Zimmerman and Austin) who missed a lot of free throws Wednesday night, it hurts them. (Mario) is such a great kid, it is tough on him. But he is such a positive person. We talked about it Thursday and he is such a humble kid, he told me that he wanted to do anything he could to make this team better. That is the kind of attitude he has. He is all about the team. As long as you put the team first, good things will happen. That is what he does."
Talk about the rebounding of your team.
"That is something we stress. Our team has been a great rebounding team all year long except for the last three games. We worked on it. Rebounding is attitude. You are not going to go out and practice improving your rebounding. It is about attitude. I think we had a couple of guys who had an attitude adjustment and I thought we went and rebounded the basketball."
Talk about Vanderbilt, his team's next opponent.
"It is a great basketball environment. There will be a great crowd there. Vanderbilt has a very good team and we have a very good team. It ought to be a very exciting game. We look forward to going up there."
Talk about how you guys shot the ball, especially in the first half.
"We have been shooting the ball well. It comes from a lot of repetition in practice."
You have had three straight games where you have hit double figures in points. Talk about that.
"I think that is what I have been looking for, playing consistent, coming out and doing what I have to do offensively. And also playing good defense. I think the past three games I have played well on offense and defense. I have my confidence back up."
What was the difference in this game as compared to the first Auburn game?
"I think our defensive intensity set the tone of how this game would be played. We came out and jumped on them. At Auburn, we were kind of sluggish. We were just kind of trading baskets."
What about the rebounding of your team tonight?
"That was what we were concentrating on tonight. Defending and rebounding, that is what is going to win games. We were outrebounded three of the past four games and we lost those three games. We came into this game saying that we had to outrebound our opponent to get the win. And that is what we did."
What is it about this team, when those jump shots fall it appears you are very hard to beat?
"When our jump shots are falling, we, basically, are unstoppable. With Mario working hard inside and everybody knocking down their shots, we are unstoppable."
You blow this Auburn team away, but have a big lead against LSU Wednesday night and lose. How do you explain that?
"The LSU game, in the second half, was a lack of concentration. We didn't finish out the game like a true champion is supposed to. We made a promise to ourself that we would never let that happen again. It is kind of funny that the Lord put us in the same situation today that he did last Wednesday night. I told the guys don't let up. You saw what happened when we let up (against LSU)."
How about talking about Mario's play.
"Coach gave him a challenge before the game. Coach told him, 'you have to rebound better. We can't win without you rebounding.' He got a career high (14 rebounds). He stepped up and took on the challenge."
Talk about the team's play today.
"We wanted to come in today and demolish them. We came out in the second half and built on the lead and added to the cushion."
Do you think this team learned from the LSU game where you not only lost the big lead but the game as well?
"I think we did, but we should have learned from the Kentucky game. They had us down and we came back and beat them."
I know you guys practice free throws in practice. Why does that continue to be an achilles heel for this team?
"We spend a lot of time shooting free throws. I think we just think about shooting free throws too much. It needs to be a rhythm type thing, and not something you think about that much."
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 email@example.com.