Mississippi State University lost to the No. 21 University of Kentucky 78-65 almost two weeks ago, since then MSU has ripped off three straight wins including a dominant performance over University of Georgia on Saturday night.
MSU (17-6, 5-5 SEC) forwards Abdul Ado and Aric Holman had a tall task stopping UGA (13-9, 4-6 SEC) forward Yante Maten, who leads the SEC in scoring with 19.6 points a game. At halftime, Maten had only two points and MSU had a 16-point lead. Maten finished the night with only 13 points as MSU coasted to a 72-57 win.
“Maten is a beast,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said. “He is the leading scorer in the league, second-leading rebounder and in the first half particular we were really good (on him).”
MSU dominated from tip to finish as UGA never led in the game. MSU’s biggest lead was 19 points with 12:31 left in the second half.
MSU’s biggest point of dominance was on the glass. MSU outrebounded Georgia 37-20.
Lamar Peters, a sophomore from New Orleans, led the team with a season-high 20 points. He went nine for 17 from the field and dazzled the 7,775 in attendance with crossovers, hesitation and stepback moves. Peters also had four steals in the game.
Peters struggled to open up the season but turned things around after his 17 point outburst against Alabama four games back.
“I felt I was not bringing much to the table,” Peters said. “Some of the close games we lost, I feel like if I brought more we would have won. I just want to help them (his teammates) and help the team win.”
Four Bulldogs totaled more than 10 points on the night, including Nick Weatherspoon. Nick did so with efficiency, scoring 14 points and going seven of nine from the field. His brother Quinndary Weatherspoon also scored 14 point and grabbed eight rebounds. Aric Holman rounds out the group with 12 points.
The game was a pivotal turning point in MSU’s season. If MSU wants any hope of making the NCAA tournament they needed a win against UGA. While their chances are still very small, they are now plausible.
MSU entered the night with an RPI of 61, UGA entered with an RPI of 56. If MSU wants to make the tournament they will need to get that number on the low side of 40. Doing that starts next Tuesday night in MSU’s game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide entered Saturday with an RPI of 40. The game is set for a 6 p.m. tip-off and the SEC Network will broadcast the game.
However, Howland is playing one game at a time.
“It is all about one game, Alabama, period,” Howland said.