After struggling in the first 12 minutes and 30 seconds of the game, Mississippi State University men’s basketball dominated the rest of the way and went on to win the exhibition by a score of 87-62 over West Florida.
The Bulldogs trouble came from fouling, as they had 24 total in the game; but defense is what got them back in the game with Lamar Peters, a sophomore guard from New Orleans, Louisiana, forcing two steals and a block tonight.
“We came out a little shaky, and a little slow on defense, and we knew we had to pick it up on defense,” Peters said. ‘We picked it up on defense, and that turned into offense for us. So we were able to get our transition and play for each other and make a lot of good plays.”
Head coach Ben Howland was not happy about the amount of foul trouble the team found themselves in, with three players fouling out of the game.
“We had way too many fouls, we had six fouls in the first five minutes and 10 seconds, you just can’t do that,” Howland said. “We got to play without fouling, that was one of our mantras going into the season. We got to play without fouling.”
Howland also felt the team could have played better defensively, and they should be more compact. He even had a rule for his players to follow in the game, so they can hold their defensive shape better.
“I think the thing that really hurt us defensively is that we were too stretched out; in other words, we are not keeping compact enough,’ Howland said. “Our rule tonight for that team was to be no further than one step beyond the three point line. We kept getting stretched and that makes so much spacing for them and then they were carving us up.”
The coach was also pleased with Nick Weatherspoon, a freshman guard from Canton, Mississippi, who logged 18 minutes with 14 points. After the game, he felt pretty confident on how he played against West Florida.
“I believe some of the passes that I made, and some of the shots that I knocked down, is stuff that I’ve worked on the last few days,” Weatherspoon said. “Just playing good defensively in the second half, I feel like is some of the best minutes I’ve played.”
Men’s basketball will kick off their regular season at home on Nov. 10 against Alabama State.