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January 30, 2014
Bulldogs Fight Against the Gators but Come Up Empty Handed
Mississippi State (13-7, 3-4) had a strong defensive effort but couldn't capitalize on the offensive end on Thursday night as #3 Florida (18-2, 7-0) outscored them by 10 in the second half for the 62-51 win. It was the Bulldogs second-straight loss and they dropped to 11-2 on the year at home.
MSU came out with fire on the offensive and defense and held an early 16-14 lead just a few minutes in. The Gators would have their due, however. With strong defense against the Bulldogs Florida got the lead and slowly pushed that lead out to nine in the late stages of the half at 25-16 using an 11-0 run.
With Craig Sword and Fred Thomas on the bench in foul trouble the Bulldogs had very little offense but found a way. State would close the half on a 8-2 run as they closed the gap to one on an I.J. Ready floater.
"I thought in the first half that our guys did a really good job of competing," Rick Ray said of his team. "I was really proud of that group that was in there to end the half with Jacoby (Davis), Tyson (Cunningham) and all those guys we had."
State held the Gators to 3-12 shooting from three giving the offense chances to get back in the game.
The Bulldogs came out of the second half firing on all cylinders. Gavin Ware started the half with two baskets to give state their first lead since early in the game at 30-29. The Bulldogs battled for the first few minutes, but the Gators started to slowly push the lead out as MSU couldn't find the offense. Florida had as much of a 13 point lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The lead would get down to nine but that's as close as they could get and the Gators would pull it out in the second half with an 11-point loss. The loss was an improvement from a 35-point blowout at home against the Gators last year.
"I thought in the second half they shot 56% from the field in the second half and we just gave up two many offensive rebounds," Ray said. "There's really no reason at all to give up an offensive rebound. Our team is growing, but we still have a ways to go."
MSU shot just 1-6 from the free throw line on the night while the Gators hit 8-19. State was outrebounded 38-30. State was more inconsistent on offense than they have been against a solid Florida defense as they converted just seven assist to 12 turnovers.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring with 15 points from Colin Borchert with seven rebounds and 3-7 from three. Sword scored 12 points on 6-12 shooting with three steals. MSU also had double digits from Ready with 10 points and four rebounds.
"I think I.J. is just a good player," Ray said of the freshman. "He's going to do whatever is necessary for the team to be successful. I think it's hurt I.J. that he's had (injuries). He's not the typical freshman at this time because he's only played half of those games."
MSU now heads to the road to take on Vanderbilt in Nashville. The game is set for 4 p.m. and will be broadcasted by Fox Sports Net.
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