STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Aric Holman scored a career-high 23 points as Mississippi State out the non-conference portion its schedule with a 109-81 win against North Florida Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs will enter the SEC portion of the schedule at 12-1 – the best start since the 2011-12 squad also started 12-1 before finishing non-conference play with a 13-2 mark. The 109 points scored were the most by the Bulldogs in a game since a 123-73 win against Troy during the 1995-96 season.
“Glad we were able to get the win after the first half,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “They shot really well from the field in the first half. We shot better in the second half. Eli Wright gave us some great minutes. Nick Weatherspoon’s defense to start the second half was good.
“We had 24 assists on 44 made baskets. That’s an excellent statistic.”
Things were still tight after an evenly-fought first half as the Maroon and White entered the locker room with a slim 47-43 lead.
In the second half, the Bulldogs scored 62 points, including seven made 3-pointers after an 0-7 first half from long range. Overall, MSU shot 62 percent from the floor.
MSU placed five players in double figures. Holman was followed by Quinndary Weatherspoon (18 points), Xavian Stapleton (16 points), Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter (11 points apiece).
Abdul Ado had a game-high 9 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Quinndary Weatherspoon had 6 assists.
Neither team held a larger than a four-point first-half lead before the Bulldogs scored four straight to make it 27-22 with 9:39 left. The Bulldogs held another couple of small leads but the Ospreys kept hanging tight.
A dunk by Holman and a basket by Quinndary Weatherspoon pushed the lead to 47-43 at halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs opened things with six-straight points for a 53-43 lead. After UNF pulled within 53-46, MSU followed with a 26-6 run to open a 79-52 lead with 11:29 left.
“(Stapleton) was really big during that run,” Howland said. “He hit a couple of 3-pointers and made a couple of big defensive plays.”
For the contest, MSU hit 44 of 71 shots from the field (62.0 percent), 7 of 18 shots from 3-point range (38.9 percent), 14 of 20 shots from the foul line (70.0 percent). North Florida hit 27 of 63 shots from the field (42.9 percent), 12 of 29 shots from 3-point range (41.4 percent) and 15 of 19 shots from the foul line (78.9 percent).
MSU held a 46-21 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 24 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Ospreys had 12 assists and 14 turnovers.
North Florida (5-11) received 17 points from Trip Day, 14 points from J.T. Escobar, 13 points from Wajid Aminu and 12 points from Ivan Gandia-Rosa.
MSU will open Southeastern Conference play at home Tuesday against Arkansas. The Bulldogs and Razorbacks will tip at 8 p.m. and the game will be available nationally on the SEC Network.