STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Wendell Lewis scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 53-42 victory over Texas-San Antonio on Tuesday night.
Lewis was one of the few consistent performers in an ugly offensive night for both teams. The 6-foot-9, 258-pound senior made 8 of 9 shots from the field and 4 of 5 from the free throw line.
Freshman Craig Sword added 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-5), who won for the second time in six games. Mississippi State won despite 17 turnovers.
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Texas-San Antonio (3-5) was led by Kannon Burrage’s 15 points, though the senior shot just 4 of 18 from the field and had six turnovers. Hyjii Thomas added 10 points. The Roadrunners committed 20 turnovers and shot just 15 of 55 (27.3 percent) from the field.
There was a lot of sloppy basketball at Humphrey Coliseum, especially in the first half when both teams went more than six minutes without scoring. The Roadrunners were playing without starting guard Michael Hale III (knee) and obviously missed his 16.5 points per game.
Lewis hit a layup to give Mississippi State a 16-14 lead with 8:21 remaining in the first half, and then no one scored until Lewis hit another layup with 1:48 remaining. In between were crooked shots, turnovers, broken plays and red faces for Mississippi State coach Rick Ray and UTSA coach Brooks Thompson.
Fred Thomas hit a 3-pointer to push the Bulldogs ahead 21-14 with 1:03 remaining in the half, and they took a 23-17 lead into halftime.
Mississippi State has predictably struggled this season under Ray, the first-year coach who has had to deal with rampant attrition and injuries. The Bulldogs have only seven healthy scholarship players and have already lost by double-digits to North Carolina, Marquette, Texas and Providence.
The Roadrunners figured to be an easier challenge, especially considering they were coming off a 33-point loss to Cal State Bakersfield.
But Mississippi State’s constant turnovers kept things close.
The Bulldogs played better in the second half, and shot 21 of 46 from the field (45.7 percent) for the game. They finally put the Roadrunners away on Sword’s 3-point play with 2:22 left, which pushed the lead to 47-35.