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Men’s Hoops Dominates Iowa State, 95-56

STARKVILLE – The Mississippi State men’s basketball team used a total team effort on both sides of the floor to put a three-game losing streak in the rear view mirror and collect a 95-56 convincing victory over Iowa State during Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Bulldogs (10-8) dished out a season’s best 21 assists on a season-high 37 field goals and helped the SEC edge out the Big 12 by a 5-4 margin during this year’s challenge.

 

Mississippi State has won 39 of 44 games when holding the opposition to under 60 points under Coach Howland with 34 of those 44 contests coming inside Humphrey Coliseum.

The 39-point margin of victory matches State’s largest of the season with an 87-48 rout of Mississippi Valley State on 12/21/2020. It also marked the Bulldogs largest margin of victory over a current Power 5 non-conference opponent in program history. The previous mark was a 75-47 win over Florida State on 12/10/1951.

Iverson Molinar garnered his sixth game of 20-plus points on the season to lead a four-player attack in double figures. He tallied 20 points on 8-of-13 from the floor and grabbed three rebounds. The Bulldogs have won eight of their nine games when a quartet of players amass double figures in 2020-21. Molinar has eclipsed 10-plus points during 14 of his 15 appearances on the season.

D.J. Stewart Jr. contributed 17 points, a career-high tying five assists and two steals followed by Tolu Smith’s 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals. The 17-point performance from Stewart Jr. extended his double-digit scoring output streak to five games and made it double figures in 17 of 18 games this season. Smith used a 6-for-9 shooting clip to reach 10-plus for the 13th time on the season.

Deivon Smith joined Molinar, Smith and Stewart Jr. in double figures as he came away with 10 points and a career-high nine assists for the third 10-plus point game of his career.

Derek Fountain used a perfect 3-for-3 shooting clip and drained his first trey in Maroon and White to work his way to a career-best seven points. Prior to today’s contest, Fountain had one basket against Jackson State earlier this season.

Quinten Post and Jalen Johnson garnered seven and five points, respectively. Post filled the box score with six rebounds, one block and a steal over his 16 minutes of court time.

Javian Davis, Andrew Junkin, Cameron Matthews and Keondre Montgomery all tacked on two points each. Davis contributed six rebounds, while Matthews tacked on two boards of his own.

In his 115th career start, Ado tallied seven rebounds which allowed him to become 13th player in program history to the 700 career rebounds mark. The 115 starts put him in a fourth-place tie with Craig Sword (2013-14-15-16) in program history.

 

For the contest, State hit 37-of-73 shots from the field (50.7 percent), 8-of-19 shots from three-point range (42.1 percent) and 13-of-19 shots from the foul line (68.4 percent). The Bulldogs have won all six of their games when draining at least eight treys this season.

Mississippi State dominated nearly every statistical category. The Bulldogs tallied 24 of their 37 field goals on the interior for a 48-14 advantage in paint points. State also capitalized on 21 turnovers by Iowa State (2-9) en route to a 34-8 edge in points off turnovers.

The Bulldogs won the battle on the boards for the 16th time in 18 games by a 41-34 margin. The Bulldogs collected 17 offensive rebounds and notched 20 of the game’s 25 points on second-chance opportunities.

Mississippi State had 12 of its 15 players who saw action score points and piled up a 40-16 margin in bench points.

Iowa State connected on 17-of-50 shooting clip (34.0 percent), a 4-of-24 mark on its three-pointers (16.7 percent) and sank 18-of-25 at the charity stripe (72.0 percent). Rasir Bolton paced the Cyclones with 18 points and seven rebounds. Iowa State also received 11 points from Tyler Harris, and 10 rebounds courtesy of George Conditt IV.

FROM THE BENCH – COACH HOWLAND

BH: “I thought we came out and played really hard, which we’ve done these last three games in a row now. It was as hard as we’ve played all year. I thought our defense was outstanding in that first half when we took the lead. D.J. Stewart [Jr.] [hit] two 3’s in a row, back-to-back. One was in transition from Iverson [Molinar], and the other was from the deep corner against the zone. It broke the game open for us, and we never looked back.”

We were good with the ball. They [Iowa State] took a lot of chances and made a lot of mistakes. They were playing zone quite a bit, and we did a good job of attacking that. I figured they would play some zone, but we weren’t sure who was going to play and who wasn’t. I was very pleased with a number of performances, most notably Deivon Smith’s. I thought he did a great job of moving the ball today with nine assists and only one turnover. D.J. [Stewart Jr.] also had five assists and no turnovers. Those two guys had 14 assists and one turnover between the two of them. Deivon was very instrumental in us only having 10 turnovers [as a team] because he really shared the ball, took care of it and had it in his hands a lot.

I thought Derek [Fountain] played really well today. He came in and was very confident. Derek is going to be a really good player for Mississippi State. He’s versatile. He can play both the small forward and the power forward positions. He’s gotten about 20 pounds stronger since he’s gotten here. He has a really good feel for the game on offense. He’s a good passer, a good fundamentalist, and he’s close to breaking into our top nine [spots in the rotation], to be honest with you. I thought Andersson [Garcia] did a good job. I was really excited for him. He’s a great kid who brings it every day. He hit a three. Then, Deivon [Smith] did a great job to drop off that dunk for him. Keondre [Montogomery] was obviously excited to be in there – he was able to get up six shots in six minutes.

 

FROM THE LOCKER ROOM – DEIVON SMITH

“Just playing with more grit and trying to be hungrier than the other team at all times. I feel like the last few games that we lost that we played hard and good team defense. However, we just came short. I feel tonight it felt personal, and everyone had a chip on their shoulder. So, we were able to come together and play great team defense.”

 

FROM THE LOCKER ROOM – TOLU SMITH

“It has been a tough process. Just being able to play with patience and seeing who is open. When I get double teamed, I always need to know that somebody is open. I have a lot of great shooters on my team. I know that they can knock the shot down if I can make the right read.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

After giving up the game’s opening bucket, Mississippi State ripped off the nine consecutive points over the next 2:29 of the contest.

D.J. Stewart Jr. provided assists on the first four baskets for the Bulldogs. He found Jalen Johnson for a transition layup, Iverson Molinar for a right wing three-pointer, Molinar for a midrange jumper and Johnson for a left wing triple to place State ahead 12-5 with 14:51 remaining.

Ahead 22-13 at the 9:31 mark, Stewart Jr. got into the scoring act with a pair of three-balls 29 seconds apart to stretch the lead to 15 points. The first one came off an Abdul Ado offensive rebound, while the second one was courtesy of Deivon Smith.

Mississippi State took a comfortable 44-28 advantage into the locker room after Molinar used a pump fake to free himself for a midrange jumper to beat the buzzer.

The Bulldogs began the second 20 minutes with a 9-0 flurry during the opening 2:21 of the stanza. Tolu Smith took over with a trio of paint baskets, and Iverson Molinar converted on an old fashion three-point play on a driving layup to stretch the lead to 53-28 with 17:40 to go.

State kept pushing and converted on 11 of its first 14 shots of the second half. Deivon Smith knocked down back-to-back buckets to balloon the margin to 68-33 with 12:47 left.

The Bulldogs bench saw extended action down the stretch and contributed to the 39-point win.

Derek Fountain headed the group with a trio of baskets which included a right baseline trifecta and two paint baskets.

Andersson Garcia buried a three-pointer of his own, and Deivon Smith connected with Garcia for a dunk which started after a Garcia steal on the defensive end.

Keondre Montgomery and Andrew Junkin added layups in addition to an Isaac Stansbury steal on the defensive end inside the closing 98 seconds to close out the 95-56 decision.

 

UP NEXT

Mississippi State starts its February slate with road trips to Arkansas and South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Razorbacks are set for an 8 p.m. CT tip from Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday, televised by the SEC Network and available online courtesy of the Watch ESPN app.

Visit www.HailState.com for the latest news and information on the men’s basketball program. Fans also can follow the program on its social media outlets by searching ‘HailStateMBK’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.