- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Quinndary Weatherspoon had a career-high 27 points to lead Mississippi State to an 85-76 victory over Morehead State Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum.

Weatherspoon had 15 points in the second half as the Bulldogs (8-3) overcame a 10-point halftime deficit. Weatherspoon also set a career-high with 10 made field goals on 17 attempts from the floor.

I.J. Ready had 19 points for Mississippi State and Aric Holman added 12.

“We just had to come out and play defense in the second half,” said Weatherspoon. “We didn’t play defense in the second half. Coach (Ben) Howland wanted our defense to lead to our offense in the second half. I think our defense is what got us going. We needed some 3s but the defense definitely got us going. When we took the lead it got our confidence back and it made us go harder on defense.”

Xavier Moon led Morehead State with 22 points while Lamontray Harris had 20 points and Jordan Walker 10 for the Eagles.

The Bulldogs shot 62.1 percent in the 2nd half and had just five turnovers om the night. Morehead State shot 50 percent for the game but had 16 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Bulldogs.

“I was very pleased we were able to fight back after being down 10,” Howland said. “We came out flat but Morehead State had a lot to do with that. They won 23 games last year and have been through a tough ordeal this year with the coaching change. Their offense is really difficult to guard and they will win a lot of games in their league.”

The first half featured six ties and three lead changes in the first six minutes. But Morehead State used a 13-4 run midway through the first half to grab control. The Eagles (3-9) shot 57 percent in the first half, including a 5-of-10 showing on 3 pointers, and held a 41-31 halftime advantage.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State shot just 44 percent in the first half and made just 1 of 8 beyond the arc.

“We struggled offensively in the first half, not being able to attack their switching man-to-man (defense),” said Howland. “That was the first time we’ve seen that this year and it was new to us. It really stifled us. But we will come back and work on that really hard.

“But in the second half (Xavian) Stapleton gave us great energy in the second half with his defense. Then Q (Weatherspoon) and I.J. were great, offensively, in the second half for us.”

BIG PICTURE

Morehead State: Morehead State is now 1-7 under the direction interim head coach Preston Spradlin. Former Morehead State head coach Sean Woods began the season but was suspended on Nov. 22 after an altercation with a player. Woods resigned earlier this week.

Mississippi State: Since Weatherspoon made his return to the lineup, the Bulldogs have won four of the last five games.

UP NEXT

Morehead State: The Eagles return home and host Asbury on Wednesday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs close out the nonconference portion of the schedule Thursday, hosting Missouri-Kansas City.


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