Providing a spark: Career night from Peters helps Bulldogs top Cowboys

Lamar Peters (2) brings the basketball up the floor for Mississippi State against McNeese State.

Staff Writer

Slow starts have been somewhat common for the No. 22 Mississippi State basketball team this year.

The Bulldogs have stumbled a bit out of the gate in a few games. That was again the case on Tuesday night when MSU faced a three-point deficit at halftime at Humphrey Coliseum against McNeese State.
Needing a spark, Lamar Peters provided it. The junior guard put forth a career night to lead the Bulldogs past the Cowboys 90-77.

“I thought Lamar really played well,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. “He shot the ball extremely well and made a lot of good decisions.

“He was fantastic.”

Peters scored a career-high 27 points for MSU (7-1). He made nine of his 16 shots for the night. Peters was especially sharp from 3-point range. He was 8-for-13 from beyond the arc. The eight 3-pointers tied for the most by a single player in a single game in Mississippi State history. Peters became just the fifth Bulldog to ever make eight 3s in a game. The last to do it before Peters was Winsome Frazier in 2004.

Peters said his success boiled down to his shot selection.

“It was just me taking better shots instead of the hard, contested shots,” Peters said. “When you make a couple of open shots, then the tougher shots start to fall.”

MSU was glad to have all the production from Peters. The Bulldogs desperately needed it on an evening where they trailed 42-39 after the first 20 minutes of action. Peters scored 15 of his points after the intermission to spearhead a comeback.

Eight of Peters’ points came in a critical six-minute stretch. State trailed 50-46 with 17:36 left in the game. That’s when the Bulldogs began a 19-0 run that turned the contest around.

Over the course of that stretch, Peters drilled a pair of his 3s and also hit a layup. Peters had plenty of help too as MSU surged in front. Reggie Perry scored four of his 15 points during the run. Perry went on to finish the night just shy of a double-double as he also brought down nine rebounds.

Quinndary Weatherspoon scored five of his eight points as MSU rolled.

“I just thought we got into a groove,” Howland said of the run. “We had a group in there that was really playing well together and getting stops. Our best offense is getting a stop and then getting it out in transition. That’s when we’re at our best.”

Mississippi State led by double figures the rest of the way. It was in stark contrast to how things were going early on. McNeese State (2-6) shot an astounding 65.5 percent in the first half to build its lead before the Bulldogs staged the comeback.

“You have to commend McNeese State,” Howland said. “They came in here and really took it at us inside. They had 28 points inside (the paint) in the first half. We were not good in terms of our defense in the post. In the second half, we did a better job of discouraging the ball in there. We also did a real good job doubling the post because we had a hard time guarding it.”

The Bulldogs were thankful to come away with the victory on Tuesday. That’s in large part because the schedule stiffens up in the days ahead. MSU faces a tough test on Saturday when it travels to Newark, New Jersey, to face Clemson. On December 15, State returns home for a big game against Cincinnati.

It’s an important couple of weeks for Mississippi State. Thanks in large part to Peters though, the Bulldogs enter the stretch with positive momentum.

“This was an important win,” Howland said. “It sets up a big two practices coming up with the game against Clemson on Saturday.”