Photo courtesy MSU Athletics
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State's Quinndary Weatherspoon made a 3-pointer as time expired to lead Mississippi State to a 75-74 win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.
The winner by Weatherspoon capped off the Bulldogs' rally in the second half where Vanderbilt led by as many as 17 points. Weatherspoon finished with a career-high 24 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
"I am just excited right now for the win," said Weatherspoon. "I don't think I've ever hit a game-winner like that before. I did from half-court in practice to win a practice game but not a real game."
Gavin Ware had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs (11-14, 4-9 SEC), marking his seventh double-double of the season and the 17th of his career. Craig Sword finished with 14 points for Mississippi State.
Damian Jones and Matthew Fisher-Davis each had 20 points for Vanderbilt (15-11, 7-6). Jones also had 10 rebounds while Fisher-Davis was 6 of 9 from behind the arc. Jeff Roberson and Wade Baldwin finished 12 and 10 points, respectively.
An I.J. Ready 3-pointer brought Mississippi State within 71-70 in the final minute before Vanderbilt's Riley LaChance made 1 of 2 free throws with 26 seconds left.
On the final possession, Malik Newman missed a 3 that was rebounded by Ware. The ball was thrown out to Ready who found Weatherspoon in the left corner for the winning shot.
"Well, that was a great comeback to be down 17 and find a way to win," said Mississippi State coach Ben Howland. "I credit the defense and getting defensive stops in the second half. That helped us to get out and get transition baskets. It was really important for us to get transition buckets off of our defensive stops. And Gavin Ware was really big in the second half.
"Having that never-quit attitude, it was good to see them rewarded for that."
Vanderbilt took control early in the first half, largely due to the Commodores' size advantage in the post and deadly shooting beyond the arc. Vanderbilt hit four three-pointers in the opening 10 minutes en route to a 21-7 lead.
Mississippi State answered with an 11-2 run that was capped by Ware's 3-point play with 7:19 left in the first half. But the Bulldogs would get no closer than five points the rest of the half and trailed 41-32 at halftime.
Vanderbilt made six three-pointers and held the Bulldogs without an offensive rebound in the first half. Fisher-Davis had five 3s and scored 17 before halftime.
"It was a very disappointing game for us," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "When you control a game that long you should win. We just have to do a better job at the end of games. We made bad turnovers and didn't get back on defense. And (Weatherspoon) is a good player and he really hurt us, especially in the second half."
Mississippi State shot 48.3 percent for the game and the Bulldogs were 7 of 17 beyond the arc. Vanderbilt shot 44 percent and made 10 of 23 3-pointers.