Bouncing back to winning form

Freshman Guard Robert Woodard II dunks the ball on Tuesday during the game against Alabama in the Humphrey Coliseum. Woodard scored six points and had one assist. 

Coming off a two-game skid, Mississippi State University held off the University of Alabama in Tuesday night’s game.

In efforts to rebound back from poor performances within the last few weeks, the Bulldogs bounced back with a 81-62 victory something that pleased head coach Ben Howland.

“For me, this is the best game we have played since I’ve been the coach at Mississippi State,” Howland said.

Prior to Tuesday’s contest, the teams met two weeks ago in Tuscaloosa and the outcome was much different. When the teams first met in January, Alabama capitalized on the careless mistakes MSU made and defeated the Bulldogs with a score of 83-79. Despite the first matchup not being in the Bulldogs’ favor, the outcome did not halt them from playing with intensity all 40 minutes Tuesday night.

Lamar Peters, a junior guard from New Orleans who led the team in scoring, had an SEC high night with 22 points, four steals and he was 5-5 from the free throw line.

“If I can score, I’ll score the ball, but my main focus is trying to get the team going," Peters said. "I’m like the quarterback out there, so I have to get these other guys going. When I see I can knock down shots and help us out, I’ll do that to.”

Comparing January’s performance against Alabama to Tuesday night’s, it almost seems like night and day. In the first half of the competition, Alabama had nine turnovers, and the Bulldogs capitalized off eight of those turnovers to have a 16-2 advantage in points off turnovers and although the Bulldogs only shot for 48 percent, they still managed to hold the Tide to 30 points in the first half. This was Alabama’s second of three road games where they ended with 18 plus turnovers.

Adding to the team’s stellar performance was Quinndary Weatherspoon who scored 20 points, six assists and three steals. This is Weatherspoon’s fourth time in the last six games where he has scored 20 plus points; when Weatherspoon scores 20 plus points, it usually results in a Bulldog victory. Following Tuesday’s contest, Weatherspoon has now surpassed 1,800 career points.

“He’s (Weatherspoon) really playing at a high level. What I liked tonight, he had four assists in the first half. I thought he was really good sharing and moving the ball," Howland said.

Another major contribution to the Bulldogs’ victory was Reggie Perry, a freshman forward from Thomasville, Georgia. Perry scored 14 points, forced two turnovers and dominated defensively by leading the team in blocks with 10.

“We played a lot harder, we helped each other,” Perry said. "We knew they were a good team, but we wanted to be the aggressors coming into this game."

With expectations high after the outstanding victory Tuesday night, the Bulldogs will take on Arkansas in Fayetteville at 7:30 pm. Feb. 16. The SEC Network will televise the game.

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