Texas State men’s basketball (2-1) lost 68-51 after struggling in the second half to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-2) Nov. 30 in Starkville, Mississippi.
The Bobcats struggled against the size of the Bulldogs, who only had one starter under 6’6”. Mississippi State’s size and length allowed them to dominate the boards and make shots difficult for the smaller Texas State players.
The first half was a low scoring affair, with four ties and seven lead changes as the Bobcats and the Bulldogs remained competitive with each other.
Texas State’s junior guard Mason Harrell opened up the scoring with a three-pointer just under a minute in. 30 seconds later graduate guard Marlin Davis stole the ball and junior forward Alonzo Sule was able to capitalize off the turnover with a paint jumper to put the Bobcats up 5-0 early on.
Mississippi State would take the lead to 8-7 after sophomore forward Tolu Smith converted an and-one and then went 2-2 from the line on the next possession. Following a media timeout, sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. made his second three of the night to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 11-7 with 15:11 on the clock.
After doubling Stewart Jr., Texas State senior guard Shelby Adams stole the ball and took it full court for a layup to cut into the lead down 11-10.
Mississippi State held a slight advantage midway through the half until junior guard Caleb Asberry entered the game for Texas State and provided a scoring spark. Asberry scored two straight jumpers for the Bobcats to tie the game back up at 16-16. On the very next possession, Asberry rose up for a poster-dunk on a fast break and take the lead 18-16.
With 0:17 on the clock, Stewart Jr. drove past Texas State for a powerful dunk to make the score 26-22. The Bobcats quickly drove down the court on their final possession. Harrell had a close-range jumper blocked, but Adams was there to secure the rebound and threw up a buzzer-beating floater to take the game into halftime, with Mississippi State leading 26-24.
The teams shot the ball fairly even in the first half. Texas State shot 34% (11-32), while the Bulldogs shot 37% (10-27). Texas State kept the game close by causing turnovers, forcing 10 by the Bulldogs. On the other end, Mississippi State controlled the boards, reeling in 21 (seven offensive) in the opening half.
Scoring was evenly distributed for Texas State in the first. Asberry led the way with six points on 3-3 shooting, followed by Harrell and Adams with five points. Adams also had four rebounds and two steals. Sule found himself with two personal fouls early on and ended the half with only two points. Despite going 0-4, Davis was able to make his mark on the defensive end with three first-half steals.
Nineteen of the Bulldogs' 26 first-half points were scored by Stewart Jr. (10 points, 4-9 field goals, 2-3 three-pointers) and Smith (nine points).
Mississippi State came back after half time with more energy on the defensive end. On the first possession of the second half, senior forward Abdul Ado set the tone by blocking a shot by Davis off the glass.
Sule had a strong start to the second half. After a turnover by the Bulldogs, Harrell was able to find Sule for a mid-air assist to tie the game 26-26. A minute later Sule would climb the ladder for an emphatic block against Smith; however, the Bulldogs would secure the offensive rebound, and Stewart would convert a step-back three to increase the lead to 31-26.
From there, Mississippi State began to pull away. Texas State failed to score a field goal for nearly four-and-a-half minutes as the Bulldogs went on a 19-4 run before the Bobcats finally made a layup to make the score 50-34.
Texas State was unable to recover from its large deficit, and Mississippi State cruised for the remaining 10 minutes on its way to a 68-51 victory.
For the game, the Bulldogs outshot the Bobcats 43.1% (25-58) to 32.1% (17-53). Mississippi State had complete control of the boards in the second half, finishing with 46 rebounds (15 offensive) while Texas State had 27 (seven offensive). The only statistical category the Bobcats had a significant advantage in was turnovers, only committing seven while forcing 17 by the Bulldogs.
Stewart Jr. set a new career-high in threes made on his way to a career-high 23 points (9-14, 5-6 three-pointers) to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Following Stewart Jr. in scoring was Smith with 12 points in addition to five rebounds and a block. Despite fouling out, sophomore forward Javian Davis had a game-high eight rebounds, seven points a block.
Harrell led Texas State in scoring with 15 points (5-13, 3-5 three-pointers), 10 of which came in the second half. Following Harrell was Asberry with 10 points and Adams with eight. Adams also had a team-high six rebounds. Senior forward Isiah Small went scoreless (0-3) for the second game in a row despite playing 29 minutes.
Next up, the Bobcats will return to Strahan Arena to face the University of the Incarnate Word at 2 p.m. on Dec. 5.