Bulldogs blast Texas A&M in SEC Tournament opener, 80-54

Bulldogs blast Texas A&M in SEC Tournament opener, 80-54

NASHVILLE, TN (WLBT) - Facing the same opponent in less than a week for the second straight season to start the SEC Tournament, Mississippi State excelled on both ends of the floor en route to an 80-54 rout of Texas A&M during Thursday’s second round action at Bridgestone Arena.

The victory enabled the Bulldogs (23-9) to advance to the quarterfinals on Friday where the Bulldogs take on third-seeded and No. 8 Tennessee. Tip time is slated for approximately 8:30 p.m. CT televised by SEC Network and available online courtesy of the WatchESPN platform.

The 26-point margin of victory was the second-highest in program history during a SEC Tournament game only behind a 79-52 win over LSU on March 8, 2017.

Three Bulldogs tallied double figures headed by Lamar Peters’ 15 points aided by five three-pointers. He also secured three assists and two steals.

Tyson Carter registered nine of his 14 points during the opening half. It marked his fifth consecutive game, and the seventh time during the last eight outings that Carter has provided double-digit points.

Quinndary Weatherspoon filled the box score with 12 points, a season’s best nine assists and three steals. The Carter-Peters-Weatherspoon trio combined to knock down nine of MSU’s 11 treys which tied a program single-game mark for a SEC Tournament game.

The Maroon and White dominated the low post and outrebounded Texas A&M by a 38-24 margin. Mississippi State also doubled up the Aggies in paint points, 36-18, and came away with 14 of the game’s 20 points on second-chance opportunities.

Robert Woodard II and Aric Holman chipped in nine points apiece to fuel Mississippi State’s bench. The duo also combined to haul down 14 rebounds, eight coming courtesy of Woodard II.

Abdul Ado notched seven points and four rebounds whereas T.J. Gray and Tate Clayton rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs during the final minutes. The bucket for Clayton was the first points of his collegiate career.

For the contest, MSU hit 31-of-58 shots from the field (53.4 percent), 11-of-25 shots from three-point range (44.0 percent) and 7-of-9 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent).

Texas A&M countered with an 18-of-49 mark from the field (36.7 percent), a 5-of-18 mark from three-point range (27.8 percent) and a 13-of-22 mark from the foul line (59.1 percent).

Mississippi State had 17 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Aggies had nine assists and 12 turnovers.

Texas A&M was sparked by a 21-point, 10-rebound effort from Savion Flagg. Brandon Mahan also totaled 10 points for the Aggies.

FROM THE BENCH WITH COACH HOWLAND

“I thought our defense really was good in this game tonight. We really came out, defended well and created offense out of it. I thought we were incredibly unselfish with 17 assists. That's back-to-back games where we had 22, our previous game against Texas A&M, our last game of the year, then 17 today. When we play like that, it's great. I thought we shot the ball well again from three. The last two games we've had 16, then again 11. I'm really happy for our guys, excited about the win.”

“They're (Tennessee) a great team. They're a team that has a chance to win the national championship, to be a Final Four team. They've been incredibly impressive all year. Because they've been so good all year, they experienced the same thing that Kentucky experiences every night, which everybody is up for them wanting to bring their A game. You look at their body of work, their schedule. They've been phenomenal.

They got the Player of the Year (Grant Williams) and three all league players (Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone). Rick (Barnes) does a terrific job. This is a big challenge for us, but we're excited to be playing and have a shot at playing them because they're a great team.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

The Bulldogs fired out to a 15-4 edge during the opening 5:30 of the contest courtesy of treys from Lamar Peters, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter. A traditional three-point play from Abdul Ado on a jump hook gave MSU the 11-point advantage.

On the defensive end, the Bulldogs forced Texas A&M to misfire on 13 of its first 16 shot attempts.

Mississippi State led by double figures for the remainder of the half. A pair of free throws by Carter made it 38-21 with 1:46 remaining, and the Bulldogs carried a 38-23 lead into the locker room.

MSU kept its foot on the gas pedal and pushed the lead to 20 points when Robert Woodard II converted on an up-and-under layup for a three-point play to make it 50-30 at the 14:21 mark.

The Bulldogs stretched it to a 30-point spread, 73-43, on a Peters stepback triple. Mississippi State closed the 26-point victory out on a Tate Clayton tipin and a T.J. Gray three-pointer inside the last 1:50.

UP NEXT

The Bulldogs advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round and will face No. 8 Tennessee for the second consecutive season. Tip time is set for approximately 8:30 p.m. CT televised by the SEC Network and available online through the WatchESPN platform.

Copyright 2019 WLBT. All rights reserved.