Dec. 29, 2001
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Five Mississippi State players tallied double-digit scoring totals and the Bulldogs shot 65.3 percent for the game as MSU defeated host Tulane, 77-66, Saturday afternoon at the New Orleans Arena.
Offensively, Tulane came out cold, shooting just 37.8 percent from the field in the first half while allowing Mississippi State to connect on a blistering 70.4 percent on 19-of-27 shooting. Tulane did a better job on offense and defense in the second half, but the slow start was too much to overcome.
"When you're not shooting the ball well, you've got to come out and do all the little things - rebounding, playing good defense, hustling to the ball," Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. "Against a team as talented as Mississippi State, you've got to be ready to come out and play well from the beginning. We're just going to have to take this experience, learn from it and get ready for the next one."
Playing from behind for most of the contest, Tulane cut the lead to six at 66-60 with 7:39 to play. The Green Wave had a chance to continue to slice away at the Bulldog lead, but three turnovers in consecutive trips down the floor cost the home team down the stretch.
The Green Wave defense was able to keep things interesting, though, holding Mississippi State to five field goals in the final seven minutes, and Brandon Spann hit four straight free throws to cut the lead to six at 72-66 with 2:39 to go. But that would be the final points the Green Wave would score as the Bulldogs held on for the win.
With the loss, Tulane's first home defeat of the season, the Green Wave falls to 8-2 on the year. Mississippi State, meanwhile, improves to 13-1.
Mississippi State got on the board first on a basket by Mario Austin 18 seconds into the contest and controlled the tempo for most of the rest of the game. Tulane cut the lead to one at 10-9 with 15:41 left to go in the first half and went on to hold a 15-11 advantage less than two minutes later.
Mississippi State's Timmy Bowers led all players with 22 points while Mario Austin had 15, Michal Ignerski had 13 and Marckell Patterson finished with 10. Point guard Derrick Zimmerman finished with a double-double with 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
The Green Wave returns to action on Wednesday, Jan. 2 when they travel to Lexington, Ky., to take on nationally-ranked Kentucky at 7 p.m.