STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — After losing five straight and shooting 24-percent of their 3-pointers on the year, Mississippi State was a team in need. The Bulldogs found their remedy Tuesday night, hitting 8 of 15 from 3-point range en route to a 70-47 victory over Jacksonville.
"I think that we did a much better job of knowing when our shot was coming," Bulldogs head coach Rick Ray said of the shooting success. "We talked about being down and ready to shoot and that made a big difference."
The Bulldogs (6-5) shot 57 percent from the field and outrebounded the Dolphins 35-18.
Mississippi State never trailed and kept a double-digit advantage for the majority of the second half.
Fred Thomas scored 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including two 3-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds. Travis Daniels scored 13, including hit 2 of 4 3-pointers, and had eight boards.
"We wanted to come out this game aggressive on offense and coach wanted us to play with a little more confidence than we've been playing our last few games," Thomas said of the offensive approach. "We just wanted to be aggressive on the offensive end."
Junior guard Andris Misters led the Dolphins (4-10) with 13 and Kori Babineaux scored 11, though the two combined to make just nine of their 28 shots.
Jacksonville shot 37 percent from the field, including 28 percent in the second half.
MSU never looked back after leading 9-0 with just under 16 minutes remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the field in the first half, hitting 15 of 25 field goal attempts, and made 4 of 8 from beyond the arc to lead 36-27 at halftime. Thomas led all scorers with eight points and two 3-pointers and grabbed five rebounds.
"The last part of the first half they scored on 10 of their 12 possessions," Ray said. "We can't go into the half like that. I thought in the second half we gave a great effort on the defensive end. Offensively, we made some shot because of the flow of our offense."
The Bulldogs tightened up on defense in the second half and jumped to a 44-30 lead after a 6-0 run with 12:51 remaining.
Jacksonville cut the lead to nine with over 11 minutes to play, but the Bulldogs outscored the Dolphins 9-3 over the next two minutes to take their largest lead at 54-39 with 9:15 remaining. The lead would not drop below 10 points the rest of the way.
MSU finished off the game out-scoring the Dolphins 16-8 and earned their first win in over a month of play.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs hit 53 percent of their 3-pointers on Tuesday night. MSU has averaged 24 percent on the season from beyond the arc.
Jacksonville: After scoring 27 points on 45.8 percent shooting in the first half, the Dolphins managed just 20 points and 28 percent shooting in the second half. They also grabbed just 10 rebounds in the second half.
WHERE IS WARE?
The win for the Bulldogs came without one of its best players in junior center Gavin Ware. The Starkville native is to be out of action for the next two weeks with an ankle injury. In his absence, freshmen Oliver Black and Fallou Ndoye logged 49 combined minutes with six points and seven rebounds between the two.
In addition to a game-high 16 points from Fred Thomas, Daniels added a near-double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds. The juniors were two of three Bulldogs in double digits as Roquez Johnson managed 11 points and eight rebounds of his own.
Mississippi State plays McNeese State at home on Tuesday, December 30.
Jacksonville visits Jacksonville State on Saturday, December 27.
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