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Mississippi State Basketball: Bulldogs Dominate 2nd Half to Defeat No. 13 Missouri

It was the tale of two halves. Last night’s game started out with the Bulldogs (7-4, 2-1) taking an early lead against the Missouri Tigers (1-2, 7-2). The two teams battled back and forth until about the halfway point in the first half when the Bulldogs hit a wall where they went on two long scoring droughts. The Bulldogs would find themselves in a 27-39 hole to the top 15 Tigers at half-time.

After the break, the Bulldogs came out of half-time on fire. Mississippi State dominated the ranked Missouri Tigers 51-24 in the second half and won 78-63. Bulldog coach Ben Howland credits leadership on his team for their second half efforts…

“I wish I could take credit for it, but I thought we had great leadership within the team. I thought
Abdul [Ado], D.J. [Stewart Jr.], Iverson [Molinar], and Tolu [Smith] all stepped up and really played with
great passion and fire.

D.J. Stewart Jr. and Iverson Molinar ignited the second half serge by scoring 24-straight points to put the Bulldogs on top. The duo combined for 44 points in the game with 36 of the scores coming in the second half alone. Stewart Jr. knew the team needed someone to step up and decided he would do what he could to help carry his team.

“I zoned out, I’m so focused. I knew we needed a person to step up and fight back to get the dub
[win]. I just had to lock in and put the team on my shoulders.”

Many worried that the young Bulldog team might not be up for the task after the devastating double-overtime loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. However, Bulldog center Abdul Ado says that the loss was motivation for his team.

“I feel like the loss from last game motivated us way more. The standings where they have us finishing the season in the SEC, we don’t like that. We truly believe that’s not how our season is going to end. We don’t feel like we are a 12th [place] team. We feel like we are above [that], and that motivates us
every day. The last game, we felt like we gave it our best. Apart from the little mistakes we made, it pissed us off. We decided to come in today and give it our best. Take care of business and take care of the ball and rebound.”

The win was the first over a ranked team since the Bulldogs defeated No. 16 Auburn 92-84 in 2019, and was the second largest margin of victory over a top 15 team in program history.

The Bulldogs return to action Saturday when they go on the road to face the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-2, 4-4).

Nathan Wright

Nathan Wright covers sports, news and events in the Mississippi Delta and throughout the Magnolia State for the Mississippi News Network.

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