Before the season began, Mississippi State Head Coach Rick Stansbury forewarned there would be days like this. Youth, inexperience, and athleticism lead to an exciting game for the MSU fans in attendance, as the Bulldogs defeated the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State 104 - 80.
As Dietric Slater went the length of the court to score two of his ten points, a sloppy first half came to an end with the Bulldogs leading 46 - 43. In the half the Bulldogs committed an astounding 16 turnovers while shooting 53 percent percent from the floor.
"It's not game to game...it's possession to possession with this team right now," said coach Stansbury. "I'm proud the way they stayed together and fought to make plays to separate themselves."
In the first half of play the Bulldogs were led by Charles Rhodes with 11 points and 12 rebounds in 16 minutes of action, while freshman sensation Jamont Gordon was in early foul trouble and was limited to 0 points and 4 assists in just seven minutes of play.
The second half saw MSU move to their five defense, which proved to be the difference in the game. The Gamecocks went from shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc in the first half to merely 22 percent in the second half as a result of the aggressive man-to-man defense.
"The second half we played a lot of man to man, something we haven't done much of this season. I thought it really helped us keep their shooters in check,"commented Stansbury.
For the game the Bulldogs were led by Rhodes with a career-high 24 points and 18 rebounds (his first career double - double). According to Coach Stansbury this is the type performance Rhodes is capable of doing every game.
"As always you are affected by scoring," he said. "When you score you have more energy and that is how Charles was. That was his ability tonight; he needs to be consistent with his ability."
Walter Sharpe sat out this game due to missing practice earlier this week. "If you don't practice you do not play," said Stansbury.