By JOEL COLEMAN
With a little bit of ‘D’ and a whole lot of ‘Q’, Mississippi State ended non-conference play with a bang on Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU’s defense limited the University of Missouri-Kansas City to a 28.3 percent field goal percentage and Quinndary Weatherspoon had yet another fantastic game, leading all scorers with 25 points, as the Bulldogs easily defeated the Kangaroos 77-54.
“That was our best defensive effort that I can really remember in awhile,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said. “I thought we really did a good job there. We’re getting better.”
UMKC (7-8) made only 17 of its 60 shots including just eight of its 32 in the second half.
Meanwhile, Weatherspoon lit up the scoreboard for MSU (9-3). The star sophomore guard was 9-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
Weatherspoon has now scored 52 total points in his last two games and has now eclipsed the 20-point mark in in five of the 10 games he has played in this season.
“I just credit my teammates for finding me when I’m open and I’m knocking down shots right now,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m very confident right now.
“I feel like I’m playing my best basketball right now.”
Aside from his scoring total, Weatherspoon had an overall splendid showing against the Kangaroos. He also gathered in seven rebounds, had one steal and four assists.
“He played really, really well,” Howland said of Weatherspoon. “(I was pleased with) his overall game with four assists, seven rebounds and 25 points. He creates a lot with his athleticism. He’s really, really playing well.”
Weatherspoon’s biggest contributions came in the first half to help the Bulldogs pull away. MSU never trailed in the contest with a large reason being Weatherspoon. He scored 18 of his points prior to halftime as Mississippi State surged ahead.
By the time former Starkville High star Tyson Carter drilled a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half, the Bulldogs were up 44-28 and feeling good.
“Tyson’s shot was big at the end of the first half,” Howland said. “There’s a big difference between being up 13 and up 16. It just gives you momentum.”
Carter finished with 11 points.
MSU got off to a slow start in the second half as UMKC scored three quick baskets to cut State’s lead to 10. The Kangaroos didn’t get any closer though as Mississippi State went on a 22-5 run midway through the second half to ice the game.
The victory gives MSU its best start to a year since beginning the 2013-14 season 10-3. The Bulldogs will try and match that mark when they host Alabama to begin Southeastern Conference play on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“Being in this position, this is one of the best starts since I’ve been here,” senior guard I.J. Ready said. “Now we’re just looking for conference play starting with Alabama on Tuesday. We’ll just take them a game at the time.”