Mississippi State outlasts Auburn

Mississippi State outlasts Auburn

STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - Lamar Peters turned in his first career double-double, and Quinndary Weatherspoon exploded for 20 second-half points to carry No. 22 Mississippi State to a 92-84 victory over No. 16 Auburn in-front of a sold out Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.

The Bulldogs (15-4, 3-3 SEC) captured their second top 25 victory under fourth-year coach Ben Howland. Mississippi State snapped a five-game losing streak in ranked vs. ranked matchups dating back to the 2003-04 season and earned its first home victory during a ranked vs. ranked contest since a 71-67 win over Alabama on March 4, 1995.

Auburn (13-6, 2-4 SEC) was dealt its third straight loss and has dropped 15 of the last 17 games at Humphrey Coliseum.

Peters pumped in 12 of his 16 points on a quartet of three-pointers during the opening 20 minutes. He handed out a season’s best 10 assists against two turnovers over his 32 minutes of action.

Weatherspoon equaled his season’s best with 27 points and drained five of his six shot attempts fueled by a trio of three-pointers after halftime. He also knocked down all 11 of his foul shots for the game. It marked Weatherspoon’s seventh 20-point performance on the season. The Bulldogs improved to 21-2 and won 13 consecutive games when the senior guard scores 20 or more points.

Nick Weatherspoon filled the box score with 12 points, three assists, three steals and three rebounds Mississippi State’s starting frontcourt of Abdul Ado and Aric Holman teamed for 15 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and three steals.

The Bulldogs edged out Auburn by a 22-19 margin on bench points. Reggie Perry continued his strong play inside The Hump with 10 points and 11 rebounds to compile his second double-double this season. Tyson Carter chipped in nine points and two steals followed by Robert Woodard II’s three points.

Mississippi State distributed 20 assists on 28 field goals and scored 22 of its 26 paint points during the second half. Both teams grabbed 29 rebounds, but the Bulldogs were able to secure 10 of the game’s 16 offensive boards. MSU’s defense forced the Tigers into 19 turnovers.

FROM THE BENCH WITH COACH HOWLAND

“They took a seven-point lead [in the second half]. I was proud of the composure our guys showed. To fall behind seven and then [Quinndary Weatherspoon] came and made two big threes. We got a steal, I think we scored. I thought Reggie Perry had a double-double tonight and played really well ... Our bigs, we did a better job getting inside and getting to the foul line. We got to the line tonight 34 times, shot 50 percent [from the floor], 43 [percent] from three. They're just a very difficult team to defend because of the way they can space you with everybody that can shoot three. This is a really big-time win for us when you look at our drive to try to get to the NCAA Tournament this year.”

“It’s something we’re talking about a lot. I think it’s something that our guys recognize more and more. The last time we were here in this building we had 26 baskets and 19 of them were on assists against Florida. When we play the way we played today, it’s really fun to be a part of it. We have so many good passers. We have guys that can create for others but getting it inside more was big.

“Awesome crowd tonight. I was so excited about the enthusiasm. The sold-out crowd, and the atmosphere that is The Hump. Richard Williams mentioned that in the postgame radio. He was really pleased because he’s seen it many times before. It felt like days of old to him today.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Auburn seized the momentum out of the locker room and tallied 10 of the first 11 points to flip a 47-45 deficit to a 55-48 advantage with 16:42 remaining.

The Bulldogs fired back with a 14-3 spurt of their own over the next 3:36. Quinndary Weatherspoon got the sellout crowd going with back-to-back treys on the right wing 37 seconds apart. Then, Mississippi State turned defense into offense as Nick Weatherspoon and Aric Holman turned steals into dunks.

All square at 58-58 with 14:13 to go, Lamar Peters found Reggie Perry for a jam. Holman capped the run with a tip-in off an offensive rebound to make it 62-58 at the 12:58 mark.

Auburn battled back to draw even at 70-70 on an Anfernee McLemore jumper with 8:11 left. MSU’s defense put the clamps on the Tigers and limited Auburn to three field goals down the stretch.

Quinndary Weatherspoon went back to work with another trey courtesy of Peters. This one was late shot clock and went off the glass. Peters connected with Perry again for another dunk, and Quinndary Weatherspoon tacked on two free throws after a technical foul was assessed by Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl.

The Bulldogs stretched their lead to double figures when Peters added a driving layup to bring the tally to 83-73 with 4:51 on the clock.

Mississippi State lived by the three-pointer early and often. The Bulldogs rattled home their first seven buckets from beyond the arc Five of the seven triples came via Peters and Tyson Carter.

The Tigers worked their way back into the contest as guards Bryce Brown and Jared Harper registered nine points apiece. In fact, Harper provided Auburn’s last seven points of the stanza during a 69-second span to cut MSU’s lead to 47-45 at halftime.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 28-of 55 shots from the field (50.9 percent), 13-of-30 shots from 3-point range (43.3 percent) and 23-of-34 shots from the foul line (67.6 percent).

The Tigers countered with 26-of-49 shots from the field (53.1 percent), 11-of-21 shots from 3-point range (52.4 percent) and 21-of-23 shots from the foul line (91.3 percent).

Mississippi State had 20 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Tigers had 12 assists and 19 turnovers.

Bryce Brown had 18 points and three steals for Auburn followed by Chuma Okeke’s 16 points. Jared Harper had 15 points and seven assists whereas Anfernee McLemore had 10 points.

UP NEXT

The Bulldogs wrap the January portion of their schedule with the first of its two matchups against Alabama over a two-week span on Tuesday. Tip time is on-tap for 7:30 p.m. CT from Coleman Coliseum. The game will be televised by SEC Network and available online through the WatchESPN platform.

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