STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State’s night turned sour after just 29 seconds when starting guard Nick Weatherspoon was rolling around on the floor, wincing in pain while clutching his sprained left ankle.
The Bulldogs looked shaken, falling behind early against a team they were supposed to beat easily. Thanks to Weatherspoon’s replacement, things got better in a hurry.
Tyson Carter scored 17 points, including 13 points in the first half, to lead No. 17 Mississippi State past Long Beach State 79-51 on Friday for its third straight win to start the season.
Quinndary Weatherspoon led the Bulldogs with 21 points. Lamar Peters added 16 points and four assists.
“We just had to pick up our intensity,” Peters said. “We came out flat. Those guys played really hard, came out and had a good run. We just didn’t want to continue to play flat and take a quick loss early in the season.”
Mississippi State trailed 28-21 with six minutes remaining in the first half, but Carter nailed a 3-pointer that sparked a 15-0 run. The Bulldogs started the second half on a 17-4 run to put the game away.
“We finally caught our breath and started to do a great job defensively, especially the last part of the first half,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said.
Long Beach State (1-3) was hurt by 20 turnovers. The 49ers were led by Bryan Alberts and KJ Byers, who both scored eight points. They shot just 28.6 percent in the second half.
“We let our offensive ineptness bleed into our defense and rebounding,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. “They just broke our will. We played pretty well for 14 minutes, but you’ve got to play 40 and we just didn’t do it today.”
Mississippi State won despite shooting just 4 of 23 from 3-point range.
Freshman forward Reggie Perry had a productive game with five points and a game-high 14 rebounds in just 20 minutes. The McDonald’s All-American has quickly forced his way into Mississippi State’s rotation and his 6-foot-10, 245-pound frame is rare for someone so young.
“I was really happy for Reggie,” Howland said. “Reggie is a very good rebounder. We keep stats every day in practice and he’s been one of our top three rebounders the entire year in practice. You play like you practice.”
Nick Weatherspoon’s ankle injury was his second of the season. He injured his other ankle in a closed scrimmage before the season started.
Howland wasn’t sure how much time Weatherspoon would miss.
“Hopefully he’ll be back soon — I just have no way of knowing,” Howland said. “A lot of time with sprained ankles, it’s how he does overnight and how you show up the next day. He didn’t have a lot of swelling, which is a good sign.”
Long Beach State: The 49ers got off to a great start, but were too sloppy with possessions against Mississippi State’s intense man-to-man defense. LBSU has certainly been tested in its first few games, losing to UCLA, Arizona State and Mississippi State.
Mississippi State: It was a good recovery for the Bulldogs, who appeared shaken by Nick Weatherspoon’s early injury. The Bulldogs will need more production from guards like Carter and Robert Woodard if Weatherspoon’s injury keeps him out for an extended time.
Long Beach State faces Iona in Las Vegas on Monday.
Mississippi State faces Arizona State in Las Vegas on Monday.
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