STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has developed a habit of falling behind in the first half only to rally back in the second.
Saturday night was no different for the Bulldogs.
Vanderbilt went into halftime up by four only to watch MSU surge back for an 80-70 win, the Bulldogs’ fifth comeback victory in the second half this season.
“It’s getting old, I don’t like having to come from behind like that,” said MSU guard Nick Weatherspoon. “It does make us come out harder. We really need to try to start avoiding that. That’s something that we talk about before the game but that’s just how things have gone. We’re trying to get better at that though.”
State (15-8, 6-4 SEC) was actually up eight with nine minutes remaining in the first half. But the Commodores were able to close on a 12-2 run and went into intermission up 35-31.
“We got down a little and fought back,” said Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse. “We were able to get into a full-court press and slow them down a little bit and then fell back into our zone. It gave them a little bit of a problem but they figured that out in the second half.”
The Bulldogs certainly did. Mississippi State came out of the locker room on fire, making their first eight shots – three of which were 3’s – and also converted four three throws as part of a 14-2 run to begin the second half.
“A lot of it has to do with what we did on the defensive end, that helps out a lot” said MSU forward Reggie Perry. “When we get out in transition, we made good decisions and our percentage is going to be high. I feel like we moved the ball really well offensively and got some good looks.”
The Bulldogs shot 52.8 percent for the game and made 15 of their 24 shots in the second half. Perry led the way with 25 points on 7 of 10 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds for his league-leading 13th double-double of the year.
Weatherspoon provided a season-high 21 points while Tyson Carter contributed 16 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
“I thought Reggie had a tremendous all-around game with four blocks, six assists, got on the glass and was 3 of 5 from 3,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “I thought Nick had one of his best games of the year as well as Tyson. They were huge in a tough, hard-fought game.”
Vandy (9-14, 1-9 SEC) shot 39.7 percent for the game led by Saben Lee scoring 20 points, Ejike Obinna adding 12 and Jordan Wright with 11.
MSU returns to action at Ole Miss on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.