MAUI, Hawaii (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State competed hard but came up short Wednesday.
The Bulldogs forced 22 turnovers and hung tough but could not generate enough offense in the seventh-place game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Mississippi State dropped its third straight on the islands, falling 69-55 to Texas.
“We continue to put ourselves in the hole by not doing the little things,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “We allowed 24 points off turnovers and 16 second-chance points. Right there, those are 40 points that we can control. Texas does not pressure you. They don’t get in the passing lanes. So, you should not have that many turnovers against a team that plays defense like that.”
The Bulldogs scored the game’s first basket only to see the Longhorns scored the game’s next eight points. MSU closed within 11-10 on the second 3-pointer by Trivante Bloodman. The Bulldogs went close to six minutes without another score before Gavin Ware hit a bucket.
After Ware’s score, Texas extended the run to 16-2, as Julien Lewis rammed home a 3-point basket with 7:11 remaining in the half, pushing the lead to 27-12.
In the opening half, the Longhorns shot 60 percent from the field. Texas led 38-20 at halftime.
Still, the outmanned Bulldogs hung tough and outscored the Longhorns 35-31 in the game’s final half. The Bulldogs finished with 12 steals, including six by Roquez Johnson.
Texas extended the lead to 25 late in the contest before MSU ended the contest with a 16-5 run.
“We are playing hard and competing but we are not giving ourselves a chance because of some of the decisions we make,” Ray said. “Bad shots are the same as turnovers. They had two seven-foot players. You can’t drive it in against two seven-foot players. Instead, you stop, pass the ball out and better things happen. Even though they had more length, I don’t think we really did a great job of fighting for rebounds.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 17 of 51 shots from the field (33.3 percent), 4 of 11 shots from 3-point range (36.4 percent) and 17 of 28 shots from the foul line (60.7 percent). The Longhorns hit 26 of 52 shots from the field (50 percent), 10 of 18 shots from 3-point range (55.6 percent) and 7 of 16 shots from 3-point range (43.8 percent).
Texas held a 41-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Longhorns had 15 assists and 22 turnovers.
Johnson paced MSU with a career-high 18 points, while Fred Thomas had 10 points. Gavin Ware had a team-high seven rebounds, while Johnson had six rebounds.
Texas received 19 points from Sheldon McClellan and 15 points from Lewis.
The Bulldogs were expected to fly back late Wednesday night. Players are scheduled to get Thursday and Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday.
MSU returns to action Tuesday with a 7 p.m. start against Alcorn State in the Humphrey Coliseum.