STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi State ratcheted up its defensive intensity out of the locker room and started the second half on a 21-3 run over an eight-minute stretch en route to a 77-67 road victory over Arkansas on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.
The Bulldogs (18-7, 6-6 SEC) forced the Razorbacks (14-11, 5-7 SEC) to misfire on their first 14 shot attempts. Conversely, Mississippi State fired in seven of its first 10 from the field fueled by a quartet of dunks.
The Bulldogs won their fourth straight decision over Arkansas which marks the longest win streak in the series for the Maroon and White since a four-game run over 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. MSU also moved into a four-way tie for sixth place with Alabama, Auburn and Florida in the SEC standings.
Mississippi State earned its fifth halftime comeback win of the season, the most for the program since the 2010-11 season. It also marked the first time going back 2010-11 that the Bulldogs have wiped away a pair of halftime deficits during SEC road games.
Mississippi State held the Razorbacks to under 30 percent shooting and outscored Arkansas by a 45-29 margin after halftime.
Tyson Carter and Quinndary Weatherspoon racked up 28 of their 40 combined points during the second half. The duo knocked down a combined 9-of-17 shooting effort in the second 20 minutes.
For Weatherspoon, he dialed up a team-leading 22 points to secure his fourth 20-plus point performance over his last five outings and his 11th this season. Mississippi State improved to 16-1 over the last two seasons when Weatherspoon rattles off 20 or more points. The senior guard was 6-of-12 from the floor and turned in an 8-for-10 clip at the free throw line. Weatherspoon also tied a career-high with six steals and tacked on three assists.
Carter exploded for a SEC season’s best 18 points and converted on seven of his 10 two-point attempts. He also handed out four assists over a season-high 36 minutes of action.
MSU’s freshmen duo of Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II turned in a pair of solid efforts. Perry grinded his way to his fourth double-double in his five games with 12 points and 10 rebounds whereas Woodard II poured in a career-high 10 points coupled with four rebounds.
Abdul Ado, Aric Holman and Lamar Peters chipped in five points apiece. The Ado-Holman combo also grabbed 11 rebounds, and Peters was instrumental in Mississippi State’s ability to limit the damage done by the Arkansas press.
The Bulldogs committed only three turnovers during the second half and garnered a 27-22 advantage in points off turnovers. Mississippi State also controlled the interior with a 36-22 edge in paint points and secured a 35-31 rebounding advantage.
The Bulldogs played the contest without starter Nick Weatherspoon who was suspended indefinitely from game competition for a violation of team rules.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mississippi State trailed for a majority of the first half until Robert Woodard II ripped off eight consecutive points to give the Bulldogs a 27-26 edge with 3:56 remaining.
Woodard II canned a pair of three-pointers on both wings sandwiched between a eurostep layup in transition. Arkansas came away with 12 of the last 17 points of the stanza to grab a 38-32 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs went to work facing an eight-point deficit. After Reggie Perry and Tyson Carter layups, Quinndary Weatherspoon rattled home a triple on the right wing to pull MSU within 40-39 at the 17:29 mark.
Moments later, Mississippi State grabbed a 43-41 lead when Quinndary Weatherspoon connected with Carter for the alley-oop jam in transition.
The dunks kept coming for the Bulldogs as Aric Holman and Quinndary Weatherspoon got into the act to push the advantage to 48-41 with 14:15 to go.
Mississippi State went ahead by double digits on a Perry putback and stretched the lead to 55-41 with 12:01 remaining on a Holman triple courtesy of Quinndary Weatherspoon.
The Bulldogs took their largest lead at 16 points, 61-45 with 10:15 left, after two Woodard II free throws.
Arkansas drew back to single digits on six occasions, but Mississippi State had an answer each time. Ahead 66-57 at the 3:16 mark, Quinndary Weatherspoon used an Abdul Ado screen to perfection and buried a late shot clock three-pointer from the top of the key to put the lead back to 12 points.
The Bulldogs salted the 10-point decision away with a flawless 6-of-6 mark at the charity stripe inside the closing 60 seconds.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26-of-56 shots from the field (46.4 percent), 6-of-20 shots from three-point range (30.0 percent) and 19-of-27 shots from the foul line (70.4 percent).
The Razorbacks countered with a 22-of-52 mark from the field (42.3 percent), a 7-of-20 mark from three-point range (35.0 percent) and a 16-of-21 mark from the foul line (76.2 percent).
MSU had 15 assists and 13 turnovers, while Arkansas had 16 assists and 20 turnovers.
Mason Jones amassed 30 points aided by five three-pointers followed by Daniel Gafford, Adrio Bailey and Jalen Harris who provided eight points apiece. Gafford also chipped in 11 rebounds and four blocks whereas Harris distributed seven assists. The eight points for Gafford tied a season-low.
The Bulldogs continue their stretch of four of six games on the road when Mississippi State travels to Georgia. Tip time is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT from Stegeman Coliseum. The game will be televised by SEC Network and available online through the WatchESPN platform.