STARKVILLE • Mississippi State coach Ben Howland read Robert Woodard II’s stat line aloud during his postgame press conference on Sunday afternoon.
Woodard had a career-best 21 points and 16 rebounds to go along with four assists, three steals and two blocks in the Bulldogs’ 82-59 victory over New Orleans.
“He might as well have served popcorn and been handing out the drinks,” Howland said.
Woodard, a sophomore wing from Columbus, already had a new personal best with 15 points at halftime and secured his first career double-double with a rebound less than three minutes into the second half.
“It feels great to go out and play as hard as I can to achieve what I did,” Woodard said.
Woodard wasn’t alone. Teammate Reggie Perry narrowly missed a double-double of his own with 14 points and nine boards while freshmen D.J. Stewart scored 13 and Iverson Molinar added 10.
MSU (4-0) shot 50.8 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Privateers (1-3) by 18. The Bulldogs also had 18 offensive boards that led to 25 second- chance points and finished with 20 assists on 31 made baskets.
It also marked the third consecutive game that State has been able to hold their opponent under 60 points.
“Our hard hedging and really pressuring the ball has been very good,” Howland said. “And our guys have really been buying into the preparation. We’re spending a lot of time on each opponent getting ready to defend each team that we’re playing.”
The Bulldogs will now venture out onto the road for the first time this season as they participate in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.
Mississippi State is scheduled to meet Tulane on Thursday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 or ESPNU. The Bulldogs will then play either Villanova or Middle Tennessee on Friday and one of four teams – Baylor, Coastal Carolina, Ohio or Utah – on Sunday.