Weatherspoon leads Mississippi State past Arkansas, 84-78
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Mississippi State made more national news for its early season non-conference losses than most anything else over the first few months of the college basketball season.
Don’t look now, but the youthful Bulldogs – with only one senior on the roster – might just have figured things out after those early losses to the likes of Central Florida, Lehigh and East Tennessee State.
Led by 25 points from sophomore Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State (11-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) won for the fifth time in six games with an 84-78 victory at Arkansas on Tuesday night. It’s the first time the Bulldogs, who beat LSU on Saturday, have won back-to-back road conference games since 2011.
”That was a phenomenal win for us tonight,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. ”… This is obviously our best win of the year, to get a road win against a top-26 RPI team. It really bolsters our confidence, two hard wins in a row.”
Weatherspoon set his career high with 27 points in a win over Morehead State in December, and he nearly equaled that on Tuesday – finishing 8-of-11 shooting and hitting a career-best six 3-pointers.
Lamar Peters added 14 points, while Aric Holman had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Mississippi State, which outrebounded the Razorbacks 41-29.
”I was feeling good in warmups,” Weatherspoon said. ”I hit a couple in a row, and I thought then it was going to be a good night, and my teammates got me open.”
Moses Kingsley had a season-high 19 points to lead the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-3), who have lost back-to-back home games to open the conference season for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Dusty Hannahs added 17 points, Anton Beard 11 and Jaylen Barford 10 for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks led by as many as seven points in the first half before falling behind 40-36 at halftime. They briefly tied the game early in the second half before Mississippi State pulled back ahead and never looked back.
”Obviously disappointed with our performance tonight,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ”… Weatherspoon, we had no answer for him.”
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs entered the season with only one senior on their roster, and that inexperience showed in early losses to Central Florida, Lehigh and East Tennessee State. Their youthful roster, however, has started to mature as of late for Mississippi State – which now has five wins in its last six games.
Arkansas: In addition to losing their second straight SEC home game, the Razorbacks have now also lost two in a row overall after a loss last week at Kentucky. For a program that’s reached the NCAA Tournament only once in coach Mike Anderson’s five seasons, this season was critical – and now the pressure will only mount.
As the two teams walked off the court for halftime, there was an altercation between Hannahs and Mississippi State’s Xavian Stapleton – enough for the officials to blow their whistles from half court and Anderson to go running into the tunnel that leads under the seats. No fouls or technical were called, however.
The Bulldogs snapped a four-game losing streak in Fayetteville with the win, and they did so largely thanks to their 3-point shooting. After hitting 11 of 22 3-pointers in the win at LSU, Mississippi State – the second-leading 3-point shooting team in the SEC – made 12 more on Tuesday, with Weatherspoon finishing 6 of 7 from behind the arc. ”I think we’re maturing,” Howland said.
Mississippi State hosts Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Razorbacks host struggling Missouri on Saturday.