Mississippi State looks to build on momentum vs. Furman

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Mississippi State bounced back from two difficult defeats by winning its most recent game.

The Bulldogs (7-3, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) will try to build on that success when they play Furman in a nonconference game Friday night in Starkville, Miss.

"We really needed that," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said of the nearly wire-to-wire 79-50 home victory against Georgia State on Tuesday.

Howland praised his players for staying together after narrow losses to Minnesota (81-76 on Dec. 5) and to Colorado State (66-63 on Dec. 11).

"That was big for us," said Iverson Molinar, who scored a team-high 18 points and made five of six field-goal attempts against Georgia State. "We needed to bounce back. We know what's down the road and this kind of brought us back together."

This is Mississippi State's second-to-last game before beginning SEC play Dec. 29 against Arkansas.

Forward Derek Fountain, who had 10 points and nine rebounds, said the victory brought back "the positive vibes."

He was pressed into starting duty because Tolu Smith (broken small toe) and Cameron Matthews (hip) were sidelined. Their status for Friday's game is uncertain.

Furman (7-4, 0-0 Southern Conference) is coming off a poor second-half performance in a 74-61 road loss to North Carolina on Tuesday.

Alex Hunter led the Paladins with a game-high 21 points, making eight of 14 field-goal attempts (including four of eight 3-pointers), and Jalen Slawson scored 12.

Furman played the Tar Heels to a 39-39 halftime score by shooting 53.6 percent from the floor (making eight straight shots at one point), including 53.3 percent on 3-pointers. But it scored just 22 second-half points after shooting 28.1 percent from the floor, including two of 18 on 3-pointers.

"I know this program has a reputation of being a fun offense to watch," Paladins coach Bob Richey said, "but it all starts with defense here. If we defend, we win."

North Carolina started the second half with a 20-8 run and used an 11-0 run to take their biggest lead at 74-52. Furman made the final score more respectable by scoring the final nine points of the game.

--Field Level Media