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Weatherspoons part of unselfish play in MSU's opener

 

Scott Walters

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State fans finally got to see the brother tandem of Nick Weatherspoon and Quinndary Weatherspoon together on a basketball court. 

 

If the first act is any indication of what lies ahead, fans will like what they see. 

 

Quinndary had 17 points and Nick had 11 in MSU's 96-68 victory against Alabama State before a crowd of 6,811 at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

"For my first college game, it was wonderful," Nick said. "The crowd really got into it, and that gave everybody a lift. I think we showed everybody a little bit of what might be coming. This is an unselfish basketball team. We are ready to do some things." 

 

MSU coach Ben Howland hopes the program turns the corner in his third season. Recruiting has been on the uptick, but it will be up young players like Nick Weatherspoon to help MSU get back to postseason play for the first time since 2012. 

 

"Really like this team," Howland said. "Really like the unselfish nature of these players. I think we got good minutes from a lot of different combinations. We have some players who can really make contributions this year. Just got to always keep working hard and keep pushing forward." 

 

A vocal crowd was engaged throughout. Two of the Bulldogs' big men -- Aric Holman and E.J. Datcher -- worked early to help the Bulldogs build a double-digit lead. A putback by Eli Wright ran the lead to 19-6. 

 

Holman (18 points) led a group of six players in double figures for the Bulldogs. Holman, who played 21 minutes, added 11 rebounds, including eight on the defensive end. 

 

"I was very excited for him," Howland said. "We need him to keep pushing himself through exhaustion. He did a great job of passing the ball, stretching the floor, and blocking shots." 

 

With Schnider Herard in early foul trouble, it was up to Holman and Datcher to set the tone undernearth. 

 

The Bulldogs held a plus-six rebounding advantage, thanks in part to their size advantage at each position. 

 

MSU shot 56.3 percent from the field in the first half, including a 6-for-12 worksheet from 3-point range. A late 12-0 run helped establish a 58-31 lead at halftime. 

 

"We broke the game open in the first half," Howland said. "It was penetrating and hitting open guys for threes. Lamar Peters had seven assists. It was a beautiful sequence when Peters hit (Nick) Weatherspoon in the corner and made the extra pass to (Eli) Wright for the three in front of their bench. 

 

"I love when the ball is moving and we're getting open shots." 

 

Wright (12 points), Datcher (11), and Tyson Carter (11) also were in double figures. 

 

MSU hit 7-for-20 3-pointers and parlayed a tightly called game into a 27-for-35 effort from the free-throw line. 

 

Quinndary Weatherspoon likes the chemistry of his team. 

 

"When we get everybody involved, it can be special," Quinndary Weatherspoon said. "(Nick and I) have always had that kind of relationship. It's good to have others on that same kind of level. That is when we can reach our potential." 

 

Holman came off the bench and had 17 of his points in the first half. 

 

"I felt great, but at the end of the day, I owe it all to my teammates," Holman said. "They are constantly telling me to score the ball, and they help me build my confidence." 

 

MSU will play host to Florida A&M at 1 p.m. Saturday. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott

 

Scott is sports copy editor and reporter

 

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