By JOEL COLEMAN
JACKSON – Quinndary Weatherspoon struggled mightily for Mississippi State in the Bulldogs’ 67-65 loss to East Tennessee State last Wednesday. For the standout sophomore to get back on track, there was no place like home.
Weatherspoon, a native of the Jackson area, returned to his old stomping grounds Monday night and sparked MSU to an easy 86-44 win over Southern Mississippi in the Capital City Showdown at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Weatherspoon scored a team-high 16 points to eclipse 500 for his Mississippi State career and the Bulldogs (7-3) went on to dominate the Golden Eagles (3-6) in the two teams’ first meeting in over 15 years.
“I think he wanted to come home and win,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said of Weatherspoon. “He had a lot of people (in the stands Monday night) . He probably had over 100.”
Behind Weatherspoon and a 35-0 second half run for the Bulldogs that saw the Golden Eagles go scoreless for nearly 13 minutes, MSU was able to turn the game into a laugher.
Monday night’s showing was a far cry from Weatherspoon’s outing just five days prior. Against ETSU last week, Weatherspoon shot just 3-of-14 from the field. Returning to the same arena where he led Velma Jackson High School to three consecutive Class 3A state titles from 2013 through 2015, Weatherspoon bounced back on Monday, highlighted by a perfect 4-for-4 night from three-point range.
“I took the same shots I took last week and they fell this week,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m excited about that with them falling in Jackson.”
Weatherspoon wasn’t the only Bulldog to find success from deep. MSU shot 59 percent (17-of-29) from beyond the arc in the contest. The 17 3-pointers set a new school record for MSU.
“The way we shot the ball for three was really special,” Howland said. “Making 17 out of 29 is pretty incredible.”
Like Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters made four 3-pointers. Tyson Carter hit three.
Xavian Stapleton, making his MSU debut after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear, made a pair of 3-pointers, as did Drew Davis.
Mario Kegler and Joe Strugg each made one apiece.
Peters and Carter both joined Weatherspoon as double-digit scorers for the Bulldogs. Peters finished with 15 points. Carter added 11.
While State’s offense soared, USM’s fell silent. The Golden Eagles shot just 23 percent (15-of-65) from the field. No Southern Miss player scored in double figures. Raheem Watts led the Golden Eagles with nine points.
Mississippi State never trailed in the game. The Bulldogs led 39-25 at halftime. USM cut State’s lead to 41-29 with 18:28 remaining in the second half before the wheels completely fell off for the Golden Eagles. State scored 35 unanswered points to go up 76-29. USM ended its futility when D’Angelo Richardson hit a 3-pointer with just 5:33 left on the clock.
By then, the damage had been completely done. MSU rolled to the finish line and Weatherspoon, along with fellow Jackson-area Bulldogs Kegler and Stapleton, had their happy homecoming.
“I was happy for all our kids from Jackson,” Howland said. “All the kids from Mississippi have great memories of this building because they’ve all won big here (in high school). It’s fun for them and their families.”
Mississippi State returns to action Thursday when the Bulldogs host Morehead State at 6 p.m.