2nd half comeback paces MSU over Florida

2nd half comeback paces MSU over Florida
SOURCE: MSU Athletics (Source: MSU Athletics)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WLBT) - Persistence, poise and toughness paid off for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team as the Bulldogs overcame a 16-point first half deficit and a 10-point halftime hole to capture its fourth consecutive SEC victory en route to a 78-71 victory over Florida on Tuesday from Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Bulldogs (13-7, 4-3 SEC) snapped a six-game road losing streak to Florida (12-8, 4-3 SEC) which dated back to the 2007-08 season. In the process, Mississippi State erased its third halftime deficit of the season and 18th overall under fifth-year coach Ben Howland.

The Bulldogs buried 14-of-23 from the field, drained three of their five three-point attempts and were an efficient 12-of-14 at the free throw line during the second half.

Mississippi State had plenty of heroics sparked by Reggie Perry who erupted for a career-high 27 points on a 9-for-14 shooting clip. The SEC Player of the Year candidate has piled up 20-plus points in four consecutive SEC outings and in six of his last nine games. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on three-pointers and came away with eight rebounds just shy of his SEC-leading 12th double-double.

Robert Woodard II amassed 11 of his 16 points during the second half and was 6-of-7 from the floor. He also secured four rebounds and three assists.

Tyson Carter tossed in 12 critical second-half points highlighted by a 7-0 run by himself midway through the second half which turned a two-point deficit into a five-point lead. The Bulldogs are 36-10 since the start of the 2017-18 campaign when Carter provides 10-plus points.

Nick Weatherspoon was State’s floor general as he registered 13 points and matched his career-best with eight assists against one turnover. He has compiled double-digit points during eight of his 10 games on the season, and the Bulldogs are 7-1 over his career when Weatherspoon distributes five-plus assists.

Abdul Ado and D.J. Stewart Jr. rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs. Ado pumped in six points coupled with nine rebounds and three blocks, while Stewart Jr. worked his way to four points and grabbed three boards.

Ado’s nine rebounds enabled him to become the 36th player in program history to eclipse 500 career rebounds. He moved past three players and into a 31st place tie on MSU’s all-time list.

For the contest, MSU hit 28-of-52 shots from the field (53.8 percent), 7-of-12 shots from three-point range (58.3 percent) and 15-of-17 shots at the foul line (88.2 percent). The Bulldogs worked their way to a 32-26 rebounding edge and have outrebounded 15 of their 20 opponents this season.

Mississippi State had 13 assists and 15 turnovers, while Florida tallied 12 assists and 11 turnovers.

The Gators countered with a 26-of-57 shooting effort (45.6 percent), 8-of-21 on three-pointers (38.1 percent) and 11-of-14 at the charity stripe (78.6 percent). Florida was a scorching 8-for-14 on triples in the first half but misfired on all seven of its second-half attempts.

UF had four players in double figures ignited by 17 points from Scottie Lewis coupled with 13 points and seven rebounds from Kerry Blackshear Jr. The Bulldogs used a team defensive approach to contain one of the SEC’s top point guards, Andrew Nembhard, to a conference single-game low of three assists.

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