Mississippi State sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (11) rams home a game-clinching dunk during Saturday’s win over Texas A&M at Humphrey Coliseum. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
January 14, 2017 9:59:47 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men's basketball coach Ben Howland began his opening statement giving a general quote about the game.
He quickly shifted toward one of his players that he felt played the best game of their young career. That player was freshman center Schnider Herard.
Herard scored a career-high 16 points and avoided fouling out in the second half as he led MSU to a 67-59 victory over defending co-Southeastern Conference champions Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon inside Humphrey Coliseum.
"He was a force inside (Saturday). He did a great job getting to the line and going aggressively to the basket," Howland said.
It is the first 3-1 start in SEC play for the Bulldogs (12-4) since 2010 and is the first three-game SEC winning streak since 2011 (MSU beat LSU and Arkansas on the road last week). The win snaps a four-game losing streak to the Aggies (9-7, 1-4 SEC).
Although Herard had a big day offensively, he found himself in foul trouble after picking up two quick fouls to begin the second half. He picked up his fourth foul with 13 minutes, 54 seconds left.
Herard, who played 24 minutes, hovered over Texas A&M's 6-foot-10 Tyler Davis in the paint as MSU led 63-59 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Davis couldn't get the layup to go down. I.J. Ready came down with the rebound and tossed ahead to Quinndary Weatherspoon who dunked on the other end to seal the victory.
"I was just trying to stay in the game," Herard said. "I know I had four fouls, but I just couldn't make it easy for him. I just walled up on him and put my hands up to make sure I didn't get a cheap foul."
Herard has started the last four games after Howland made the decision to change things up to give his team more size at the beginning so they could have a better chance of rebounding. Herard has 17 rebounds in those four starts, including four against the Aggies. However, the Aggies out-rebounded the Bulldogs 38-23 and scored 40 points in the paint to MSU's 22. The Bulldogs were 24 of 30 from the free throw line.
Herard scored 10 points in the first half, including eight-straight to close the half and give the Bulldogs a 25-24 lead. He made four free throws and then had a layup.
After freshman point guard Lamar Peters launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time was winding down, he reached over Texas A&M's D.J. Hogg and tipped the miss back in before the buzzer sounded.
"I just went for it," Herard said. "My job as a big man is to always go on the offensive glass. I just went for it and it just went in."
Herard, who was 5 of 7 from the field, made two layups in the second half. The Port-au-Prince, Haiti, native made a layup with 5:29 remaining to give MSU a 52-51 lead and then made another layup with 2:50 remaining to push MSU's lead to 59-55.
Herard was 6 of 8 from the free throw line. He entered as a 50 percent (15 of 30) free throw shooter.
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said Herard, who played high school basketball at Prestonwood Christian in Plano, Texas, was the "big difference" in the game.
"He just buried us in the paint," Kennedy said. "He made his free throws and I think that's the biggest key because I know he struggles from the line. Two of our starters were on the bench in the last two minutes of the game and it made it tough on us.
"He's a Texas kid. We've known him and he's played with some of our guys before. He's a hard worker and a good kid and I know he was excited to play."
Herard scored eight points twice (Dec. 4 against Georgia State and Jan. 7 against LSU) for his previous career-high. Herard said he has been focusing on his job and playing for his teammates more than playing for himself or trying to get recognition.
Ready said they have tried to get the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Herard more involved in the offense.
"Schnider's playing great. I think the game is slowing down for him and of course we're feeding him," Ready said.
MSU freshman point guard Lamar Peters scored 14 points, sophomore guard/forward Quinndary Weatherspoon scored all 13 of his points in the second half and sophomore forward Aric Holman scored 11 points. Texas A&M got 16 points from Davis, 13 from D.J. Hogg and 12 from Robert Williams.
MSU plays host to No. 6 Kentucky 6 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN). Herard feels like he is ready for the challenge of the Wildcats. So does Howland.
"This was a big step for him playing against really good players," Howland said.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.
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