12/19/2013 | Starkville, Miss. (Humphrey Coliseum) | Attendance: 5902
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MS|
|3P FG Percentage||.167
- 15||Craig Sword
- 9||Roquez Johnson
- 3||Dre Applewhite
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (5-6) committed a season-high 21 turnovers which led to 16 points for Mississippi State (8-2) as the Bulldogs defeated the Eagles in their second Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic game Thursday evening at Humphrey Coliseum, 66-53.
Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) led FGCU in scoring for the seventh time this year with 15 points, pacing a trio of double-figure scorers as Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) added 11 and Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) chipped in with 10. Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) just missed a double-double with nine points and a game-high nine rebounds, but committed seven turnovers himself.
Fourteen FGCU turnovers and a dozen Mississippi State points off of them came in the first half, setting the tone of the matchup early. Like the Bulldogs, FGCU shot 46 percent from the floor (21-46), but went just 17 percent (3-18) from the 3-point line and 53 percent (8-15) from the free-throw line.
“I thought they did a good job of controlling the tempo from the start to the finish,” head coach Joe Dooley said of Mississippi State. “They got great contributions from off the bench, and they did a great job of turning our turnovers into points, which was a big point of emphasis especially in the first half where they set the tempo for the way the entire game went.”
Mississippi State jumped out to a 7-2 start before the Eagles responded with a quick 6-0 rebuttal to take its first and only lead at 8-7 just more than five minutes in. The two teams – who were meeting for the first time – then went back-and-forth before the Bulldogs went on an extended 10-3 run over the final 6:47 of the half, holding FGCU without a bucket until a Comer floater in the closing seconds.
The Eagles trailed at the half, 32-24, despite shooting 47.6 percent (10-21) from the floor in the first 20 minutes. The 14 turnovers, a 3-7 performance (42.9 percent) at the free-throw line and five different players – including four starters – who had two fouls aided in creating that eight-point halftime deficit.
After the lead ballooned to as much as 12 early in the second half, the Eagles trimmed it to six, 42-36, courtesy of a Thompson jumper, at the 11:21 mark. However, the SEC member then went on a 17-8 stretch over the next seven minutes to expand to what would be its largest lead of the night at 59-44 and coasted from there.
Craig Sword led a quintet of Mississippi State double-figure scorers with 17. I.J. Ready tallied 12 and Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas and Roquez Johnson added 10 each, with Thomas and Roquez coming off the bench to aid in MSU’s 25-4 bench scoring advantage.
FGCU will now head to Las Vegas and Orleans Arena on Friday to begin play in its final two Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic games on Sunday and Monday. The Eagles will first play Florida A&M at approximately 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday before taking on either Sacred Heart or Radford on Monday at 2:30 or 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
GAME NOTES: The Bulldogs held a 33-30 advantage on the boards … Mississippi State shot 58 percent (15-26) from the free-throw line … FGCU’s three 3-pointers were tied for the second fewest on the year … Comer finished with three assists … FGCU had 15 points of its own off turnovers … the Eagles out-scored the Bulldogs in the paint, 32-30 … Mississippi State turned 12 offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points … FGCU concluded the evening with only six assists, also a season worst.
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2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.