No. 22 Mississippi State tops Clemson 81-62 in New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Mississippi State planted the seeds for its school record of 19 made 3-pointers with some hard work over the summer.
“Our guys, I’m telling you right now, I’ve never had a team collectively work harder at shooting than our guys did this last offseason,” coach Ben Howland said.
Clemson (6-3) got 23 points from Aamir Simms and 18 points from Elijah Thomas. The Tigers were without their leading scorer, Marcquis Reed, who averages 19.4 points per game. He suffered a knee sprain in the last minute of Clemson’s previous game against Saint Peter’s on Tuesday.
Weatherspoon’s 3-pointer from the top of the key put Mississippi State ahead 74-60 with 6:13 remaining, capping a 9-0 run. Clemson did not get closer than eight points the rest of the way after closing within five points a few times earlier in the second half.
“They really were packing it in today. We were expecting that,” Howland said. “They were looking at our 3-point percentage (32 percent) this season, and they thought, ‘We’re going to play off them and pack it in.’ And that’s what they did. They were going under and around ball screens. You take what the defense gives you. Basically, what the defense was giving us today were 3s.”
The long-range shooting was a surprise to Clemson coach Brad Brownell.
“Obviously, we knew Peters had a great night the other night, but he was shooting poorly going into that. Now that it’s two games in a row, it’s like, ‘Holy cow,'” Brownell said. “Everybody who’s going to see it after these two is going to realize, wow, this guy can really shoot it.
“We knew Weatherspoon was better than his stats as well, and he made four. Holman, we thought was streaky, and this was one of those nights where he was on.”
The Bulldogs shot 56 percent (10 of 18) from 3-point range in the first half to take a 42-34 lead. They led by as many 19 points in the half.
Mississippi State connected on 19 of its 30 3-pointers.
Clemson suffered its worst loss of the season. It had lost to Creighton and Nebraska by a combined eight points.
The Bulldogs are off until next Saturday when they host Wofford.
Clemson has a week off before it hosts Cincinnati next Saturday.