NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 17 points and No. 24 Mississippi State never trailed in routing struggling Vanderbilt 71-55 on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (14-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) have won two straight after dropping their first two games to open league play. They needed this victory as the first of back-to-back road games, with four of the next five away from Starkville.
Mississippi State has not fared well over the years at Memorial Gym, yet the Bulldogs left with the program’s 10th victory in the SEC’s oldest gym in 57 games here.
Tyson Carter and Aric Holman added 10 apiece for the Bulldogs.
The worst start to SEC play in school history has only gotten worse for Vanderbilt (9-8, 0-5)
Freshman Simisola Shittu, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer, missed his first five shots and finished with a season-low seve points, well below his 14.1-point average.
Saben Lee scored 13 points to lead the Commodores, and Aaron Nesmith added 11.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 10-0 lead and led 15 during the first half, taking advantage of frigid shooting by the Commodores. Vanderbilt didn’t reach double digits until Matt Ryan hit a 3 with 7:24 to go, but the Commodores went on a 13-4 run to pull within 29-23 on a pair of free throws by Lee with 1:47 left.
That was as close as Vandy would get as the Bulldogs scored six straight and led 35-27 at halftime, a lead nearly padded by a buzzer beater. Officials reviewed the shot by Lamar Peters and ruled it came too late.
Not that it mattered. Mississippi State shook off another cold-shooting stretch, with Vanderbilt only able to pull within 39-32 on a jumper by Joe Toye with 15:47 to go. Carter hit a 3 that jumpstarted the Bulldogs on a 13-2 spurt capped by a jumper by Robert Woodard II with 11:50 left.
The Bulldogs pushed that to 65-43 on a 3 by Holman with 6:03 remaining.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs came in having knocked down 10 or more 3s in four straight games, but they showed they could win despite struggling beyond the arc. They hit just 5 of 19 for the game. They won with defense, outscoring Vandy 18-2 off 14 turnovers. The Bulldogs have won all six games this season and 15 straight since February 2017 when holding an opponent to 60 points or fewer.
Vanderbilt: This was just the start of a brutal four-game stretch for the Commodores with the first of four straight ranked opponents. No. 3 Tennessee visits Wednesday night, followed by a trip to No. 20 Oklahoma and finally a visit from No. 12 Kentucky
Mississippi State: Visits Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Vanderbilt: Hosts No. 3 Tennessee on Wednesday night.