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8:00 ET, Dec 29, 2016
Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Mississippi  Attendance: 7,109

Weatherspoon scores 25, leads Mississippi State over UMKC

By PAUL JONES

Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 25 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, to lead Mississippi State to a 77-54 victory over Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday night.

Weatherspoon was 9 of 15 from the field and 5 of 8 beyond the arc. He also had seven rebounds and four assists, and has scored 52 points in his last two games.

"It was just my teammates finding me when I was open," Weatherspoon said. "I was knocking shots down and I am very confident going into the SEC schedule. I feel like I am playing my best basketball right now."

Tyson Carter added 11 points and made three 3-pointers for Mississippi State (9-3).

Kyle Steward had 15 points to lead UMKC (7-8). LaVell Boyd added 14 points.

Mississippi State took advantage of UMKC's slow offensive start en route to an early 16-4 lead. The Kangaroos missed 10 of their first 11 shots and the Bulldogs held a double-digit lead for much of the first half.

"That was our best defensive effort that I can remember in a while," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "Last year this team killed us with their ball screens. We are getting better and defense is a big part of what we have to improve. But we stayed in front of the basketball tonight. Our individual defense was really good, especially from I.J. (Ready) and Lamar Peters."

Weatherspoon scored 18 points in the first half and Mississippi State built a 44-28 advantage at the break. The Bulldogs shots 53 percent in the first half while Missouri-Kansas City shot just 32 percent.

"I thought Mississippi State did a great job sharing the ball," UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said. "Offensively, they were clicking on all cylinders, for sure. We lost (Weatherspoon) a few times but he is a heck of a player. He plays at a calm pace and just has that calm, old-school pace about his game. Mississippi State has a lot more weapons, offensively, than last year. One through 5 can go and score at will."

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs' win on Thursday night was their fifth in December. It marked the most wins in a month during Ben Howland's tenure at Mississippi State.

Missouri-Kansas City: Senior LaVell Boyd scored a career-best 32 points in the Kangaroos' previous game, a 77-66 loss at home against Tennessee-Martin on Dec. 20, but was plagued with foul trouble against the Bulldogs and had just 14 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

HE SAID IT

"I just think his overall game was so good tonight," said Howland of Weatherspoon. "The biggest thing is for him to cut down the gambling on defense and that is my only complaint. But he is playing really, really well right now. It also helps to have your best player as maybe your best coachable player."

UP NEXT

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs open the SEC schedule and host Alabama on Tuesday at Humphrey Coliseum.

Missouri-Kansas City: The Kangaroos conclude their non-conference schedule and host South Carolina Upstate on Monday.

Updated December 29, 2016

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