February 14, 2013 7:16:24 AM
STARKVILLE - The 78-36 loss to the University of Missouri Wednesday night, could be summed up by Mississippi State University freshman center Gavin Ware.
"Our coaches told us we have seven more games this season whether we like it or not," Ware said with his head down at the podium.
In the 38-season history of Humphrey Coliseum, the Bulldogs (7-16, 2-9 in Southeastern Conference) have not suffered a worst loss than the sound defeat delivered to them by a Missouri team likely headed to the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season. The previous worst loss in the building was a 41-point defeat against Vanderbilt University in Feb. 27, 1993.
"To be quite frank, this is an embarrassing loss when you go out and you're totally inept offensively," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "You would hope that guys would have some pride in themselves and Mississippi State basketball and try to rectify that."
Missouri (18-6, 7-4) held MSU to under 40 points for the first time since the Bulldogs lost 57-36 to George Washington University in Landover, Md. At the halftime break where the Bulldogs had just 10 points, MSU was just 4 of 25 from the field, 1 of 9 from three-point range and 1 of 6 from the foul line. At the end of the night MSU, who was third worst in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, had just three assists and 15 giveaways in their seventh loss of 25 points or more.
"Missouri is not a very good defensive team if you look at the stats," Ray said. "They are near or at the bottom of all of the defensive categories. So it wasn't like we were coming in facing a defensive juggernaut. We just didn't do a good job executing offensively."
Missouri senior guard Keion Bell outscored the MSU team in the first half 16-10 as the Pepperdine University transfer led all scorers with 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting. With MSU junior guard Jalen Steele out for the second game of a indefinite suspension, Bell was able to drive through the Bulldogs perimeter defense consistently for uncontested layups.
"That's just my game to try to find as many driving lanes as possible and play as hard as I can," Bell said. "When I looked for the drive, I saw the open lane and I just took it inside. It feels great to get our first road win."
The Tigers outscored MSU in the paint 40-14 and 28-10 off turnovers. Ray alluded to the fact Missouri point guard Phil Pressey was able to get out in transition due to the Bulldogs missing their first 11 shots of the game. Pressey, who is expected to be a first round draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft, finished with eight assists and four rebounds in just 24 minutes.
Missouri came into the game 0-5 on the road in conference play but left with that mental issue gone along with now being 15-0 when ahead at halftime this season.
"I thought I guys came out and set the tone on the defensive end," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "We still missed a couple of (shots) in the first half and you could still see we struggled to get into the flow offensively. But I thought our defense set the tone for us and that's what it needs to do on the road."
The 36 points was the lowest point total by an opponent for the Tigers this season after Missouri arrived in Starkville allowing 70 points per game in SEC play.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. America and the Muslims BOOK REVIEWS