JACKSON — Mississippi State rebounded from a loss to East Tennessee State while the struggles continued for Southern Miss Monday night.
A 35-0 run by MSU in the second half highlighted a 86-44 win over Southern Miss at the Mississippi Coliseum in the first annual Capital City Showdown before an announced crowd of 4,031.
The Bulldogs now lead the all-time series over Southern Miss 15-4.
"Offensively we started out great, but defensively I felt like we started out slow like we did the last game," second-year Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. "What I am very proud of is defensively we stepped it up in the middle of first half and set the tone from there on. Also what I’m proud of is out of our 29 baskets, 21 of them were assisted."
MSU was helped by the return of forward Xavian Stapleton, a local product from Madison Central.
Stapleton, who was originally scheduled to return on Thursday against Morehead State after coming off an 18-month ordeal of two separate knee injuries, came off the bench midway through the first half and had eight points in limited action (11 minutes).
"It was really nice to finally get him out there and play," Howland said. "The number one thing that starts with him is he can rebound and can defend. He brings toughness and leadership"
Quinndary Weatherspoon had a game-high 16 points to lead Mississippi State, while Lamar Peters added 15 points and Tyson Carter chipped in 11 points for the Bulldogs (7-3).
Mississippi State made a school record 17 three-pointers (17 of 29).
MSU put the game to rest in the second half with the 35-0 run as the USM offense went completely dormant. Southern Miss scored on a Raheem Watts layup with 18:28 to go in the second half and did not make a shot until D’Angelo Richardson hit a three-pointer with 5:33 remaining.
"Credit our defense for that. We felt bad about our last performance and we need to bounce back," Howland said. "I’ve got a lot of respect for Doc Sadler and he’s been through a lot down at Southern Miss and they will get rolling once he can finally get all of his scholarships back."
Watts had nine points to lead Southern Miss (3-6), who know have lost five games in a row heading into Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
The Golden Eagles will face San Diego State to start the tournament at 6 p.m. on Thursday in a game to be televised on ESPN2.