STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State made some beautiful passes, clutch 3-pointers and spectacular dunks during Saturday night's impressive 70-59 victory over Cincinnati.
But there was an ugly, disjointed play during the second half where maroon and white jerseys were flying all around the floor that really got the attention of Bulldogs' coach Ben Howland.
"There was one play where everyone was diving on the floor for the ball," Howland said, excitement rising in his voice. "So many great plays of hustle and grit and fight and toughness.
"That's what it takes to be good."
The 18th-ranked Bulldogs earned the hard-fought victory with a balanced offensive performance. Quinndary Weatherspoon and Lamar Peters both scored 14 points while Reggie Perry and Tyson Carter both added 12.
Mississippi State (9-1) used a 7-0 run midway through the second half — holding the Bearcats scoreless for more than four minutes — to break a tie game and take a 52-45 lead.
The Bulldogs were able to keep a fairly comfortable advantage the rest of the way. Mississippi State shot 12 of 23 (52 percent) from 3-point range. Peters added nine assists.
"I'm just slowing down, letting the game come to me," Peters said. "I know I've got good shooters with Aric (Holman), Quinndary, Tyson and Nick (Weatherspoon). I know how much they've been putting in and it's paying off. I've got a lot of trust in those games.
"When I see them open I want to give them the opportunity to knock down the stop."
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said his team had too many careless possessions to beat a top-20 team on the road.
"You can't turn the ball over against a team like this," Cronin said. "It's like throwing gas on a fire. You can't just give them layups because they're not going to give you layups."
Perry came off the bench to score 10 points in the first half, giving Mississippi State some much-needed offense after starting forward Abdul Ado picked up two quick fouls. The 6-foot-10 freshman was a McDonald's All-American and has quickly earned an increased role with his ability to score both inside and outside.
Mississippi State hit 7 of 12 3-pointers in the first half to take a 37-32 halftime lead.
Cincinnati (9-2) had its nine-game winning streak snapped. The Bearcats never looked comfortable offensively and shot just 37 percent from the field.
Jarron Cumberland led Cincinnati with 21 points. Keith Williams added 15.
"I'm glad we played this game," Cronin said. "Because everything you're supposed to do right, if you don't do it right they'll hurt you. They can really make you pay. ... We learned some hard lessons tonight."
Cincinnati: The Bearcats had some good moments but couldn't generate much offense when they needed it during the final 10 minutes. They scored 27 points in the second half.
Mississippi State: It's another quality win for the Bulldogs, who have won six straight. Perry's continued development is a big plus for Mississippi State. Peters continues to play very well with his combination of scoring and floor vision.
"I'm so proud of (Peters) and looking at his maturity," Howland said. "It's really fun to watch him evolve right before us. The way he's shooting from 3 is really incredible."
Cincinnati hosts UCLA on Wednesday.
Mississippi State hosts Wofford on Wednesday.
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