STARKVILLE – Mississippi State couldn’t have asked for a much better start to its homestand.
The Bulldogs beat Missouri by 27 points on Tuesday and followed up with a 91-59 victory over Georgia on Saturday night.
“This is the best obviously we’ve played here this year,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “I think we capable of continuing to improve and getting better. That’s what’s exciting. You can just see our guys belief in one another.”
If MSU (11-6) can close things out against Arkansas on Wednesday, it’ll break even in Southeastern Conference play after starting 0-3. That game tips at 6 p.m. on SEC Network.
Much of Mississippi State’s resurgence this week can be credited to the play of Tyson Carter. In State’s first three conference games, Carter shot just 18.2 percent from the field and was only 1 of 11 from 3-point range and lost his starting job.
In two games coming off the bench this week, the Starkville native scored 15 points against Missouri and added 18 against Georgia. Carter shot 6 of 11 from the floor on Saturday and was 4 of 7 from the perimeter.
“Tyson is just playing phenomenally now,” Howland said. “I’m so excited for him because he’s worked so hard. It’s really fun and it’s big for him to be our point guard when Nick (Weatherspoon) is not in the game. I should’ve done that sooner.”
Another thread both MSU victories had in common was the play of Reggie Perry. Perry provided double-doubles in each game, including a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds against UGA.
“It’s definitely about my teammates finding me, believing in me and trusting me to finish plays off,” Perry said. “It’s also about coach Howland putting me in good positions to score.”
Mississippi State shot an astounding 61.7 percent as a team in its win over Georgia and out-rebounded the visiting Bulldogs, 40-22. A dozen different players entered the scoring column for State, including Robert Woodard II with 17 points and Weatherspoon with 12.
For the second straight game, Mississippi State started out on fire. MSU charged out to a 10-2 lead three minutes into things and forced Georgia to call an early timeout.
UGA coach Tom Crean’s message must’ve been heard loud and clear. Georgia went on a 14-4 run over the next five minutes and took a brief 15-14 lead.
“They had something working for them there,” Howland said. “They kept doing the same play four times and we got burned on it a little bit but we finally figured that out.”
Mississippi State regained control for the remainder of the half and took a 42-31 lead into the locker room. State made its final five field goals of the first half, including a buzzer-beating jumper by Weatherspoon to close things outs.
MSU’s defense also did a stellar job on UGA blue-chip freshman Anthony Edwards. Edwards, who was the nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2019, was held to only three points in the first half.
Edwards finished with a team-high 19 points but State was able to outscore his team 49-28 in the second half.
“Edwards is an incredible talent and he was 1 for 6 in the first half,” Howland said. “He came out much more aggressive in the second half and ends up getting 19 but he was 5 for 16 from the field.”
Toumani Camera and Rayshawn Hammonds each had 10 points for a Georgia (11-6, 1-3 SEC) squad that shot 39.3 percent and was only 3 of 18 from behind the arc.