JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State’s Drew Davis – a walk-on who had played three minutes all season until Monday night – gave a little fake and a shake before letting a 22-footer fly in the waning minutes of a blowout win over Southern Mississippi.
Of course, it splashed through the net. The starters danced and celebrated on the bench for another 3-pointer that found its way home.
For the Bulldogs, it was just that kind of night.
Mississippi State made a school-record 17 3-pointers on the way to an 86-44 victory in a neutral-site game at the Mississippi Coliseum. The Bulldogs made 17 of 29 (58.6 percent) attempts from behind the arc, burying Southern Miss under an avalanche of offense.
Quinndary Weatherspoon led Mississippi State with 16 points. Lamar Peters added 15.
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said the Bulldogs were very good on both ends of the court.
”I was really pleased with how we played tonight, especially defensively,” Howland said. ”Everything starts and ends with our defense. The unselfishness from our team the way we passed the ball and obviously 17 of 29 from three is really special.”
Mississippi State (7-3) never trailed and had a comfortable lead for most of the night. The Bulldogs turned a reasonable game into a full-scale blowout early in the second half thanks to a 35-0 run that pushed their advantage to 76-29.
”That was a first for me,” Weatherspoon said.
Southern Miss (3-6) shot just 23.1 percent (15 of 65) from the field. The Golden Eagles missed 19 consecutive shots during Mississippi State’s 35-0 run.
”Their speed – they just took us out of everything,” Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said.
Raheem Watts led the Golden Eagles with nine points. The Golden Eagles have lost five straight games and have only one win this season over a Division I opponent.
”The only thing I know to do is put your head down, grind, work and try to get better on the practice court,” Sadler said. ”That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Mississippi State jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the opening minutes and cruised to a 39-25 halftime advantage.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles struggled to score consistently against the bigger Bulldogs. Southern Miss hasn’t won a game in nearly a month and this loss was particularly ugly.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs’ young roster continues to show promise. Xavian Stapleton’s return from knee surgery – he scored eight points in 11 minutes on Monday – gives Mississippi State a deeper rotation.
Stapleton hadn’t played in a game in 18 months because of two consecutive knee surgeries. The 6-foot-6 guard should be a valuable backup for the Bulldogs as they approach SEC play.
Mississippi State had a 46-37 advantage in rebounding, an 11-1 advantage in blocked shots and a 9-6 advantage in steals. Freshman Schnider Herard had a career-high 12 rebounds.
Southern Miss plays San Diego State in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Thursday.
Mississippi State hosts Morehead State on Thursday.
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .