STARKVILLE — Mississippi State found playing St. Bonaventure to be a little bit easier this season.
Last season, the Bulldogs had to score the final five points to beat the Bonnies 76-71.
However, the rematch Saturday was never in doubt as MSU hit four 3-point field goals in the first 4 minutes, jumped out to a 16-2 lead and went on to a 105-53 win at Humphrey Coliseum. It ties for the largest margin of victory in the 12-year era of coach Rick Stansbury.
The Bulldogs (5-2) believed they were better prepared for St. Bonaventure this year.
“We took the scouting report into the game,” MSU junior forward Kodi Augustus said. “We did come back with the same players and same team, but we just made the adjustment and they didn”t.”
The Bulldogs got another big game from Ravern Johnson, who led the scoring with 18 points. That was the same total he had last season against the Bonnies.
Johnson, who scored four points in the final minute of last year”s MSU win, was glad it didn”t come to that on Saturday.
“Everyone on the team is more mature,” Johnson said of the difference. “Everybody played better on defense and had a good offensive game. With our defense, they couldn”t do much.”
St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said the Bulldogs appeared to play much better against his team than they did last year and was definitely the best game he had seen out of them this season.
“When they shoot the ball the way they did with (Jarvis) Varnado inside the paint, they are tough to beat,” Schmidt said. “They shot it and when it was going down, they gain more confidence and played that much better. We couldn”t match them.”
The Bonnies (4-3) entered the game sporting the nation”s best field goal percentage (55 percent).
MSU held St. Bonaventure to 33 percent (23 of 69) shooting.
Stansbury believed it was the defense on St. Bonaventure that led to success on the offensive end.
“I thought we took everything away from them defensively,” Stansbury said. “They want to run sets, but they got very few open things out of their sets.
“Our effort started with our defense.”
Stansbury noted that the Bonnies got very little from “their three big guns.”
St. Bonaventure sophomore forward Andrew Nicholson averaged 16.3 points per game, but only had four against the Bulldogs. Senior guard Jonathan Hall of the Bonnies (13.8 ppg) was held to two points and senior Chris Matthews (13.3 ppg) only scored five points.
MSU showed it could shoot the ball pretty well.
The Bulldogs tied a school record by hitting 16 3-point field goals and shot 60 percent overall. Johnson hit four 3-pointers and sophomore point guard Dee Bost nailed five from long range.
“We came out with a lot more energy than we usually come out with,” Johnson said. “Everybody had a good rhythm starting out and we played good on defense and the offense came and everyone knocked down on shots. One person on we felt like we were able to get into the action with them.”
Augustus and Bost had 17 points each for MSU, while Varnado added 14 points and Barry Stewart chipped in 13 points.
n Notes: Varnado became the 31st player in school history to score 1,000 points with a free throw at 6 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first half. … With four blocks, Varnado passed Calvin Booth (formerly of Penn State) for the 10th-most blocked shots in NCAA history. Varnado is six shy of tying Lorenzo Coleman (formerly of Tennessee Tech) for ninth most and needs 104 more to tie Wojciech Mydra (formerly of Louisiana-Monroe) for the record. … Augustus” consecutive made free-throw streak ended at 18. … Freshman forward Wendell Lewis scored a career-high seven points.