Mississippi State and Dayton both won Tuesday night.
They both started decisive runs late in the first half and continued them early in the second half.
Now they’ll go head-to-head in the Holiday Hoopsgiving quadrupleheader Saturday in Atlanta.
The Bulldogs (3-2) finished the first half with a 10-3 run to take a 34-30 halftime lead against visiting Jackson State. Then they scored the first 16 points of the second half to complete a 26-3 run and coasted to an 82-59 victory over a team playing its season opener after four COVID-related cancellations.
“We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy because they hadn’t played yet,” said Javian Davis, who had 11 points as one of four Mississippi State double-figure scorers. “After halftime, it was about coming out and playing harder, playing better defense.”
Iverson Molinar had 21 points in his second game since returning from a COVID-19 absence on Dec. 4. He has made 13 of 21 field-goal attempts, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range, in his two contests.
“We’re a completely different team because he gives us an excellent scorer who can also create for others,” Bulldogs coach Ben Howland said. “What you’re seeing these last two games is what you’re going to see every night on a regular basis.”
Dayton (2-1) beat visiting Northern Kentucky 66-60 after making a 22-2 run from 2:28 remaining in the first half until three minutes into the second half. That turned a 32-27 deficit into a 49-34 lead.
“We got stops and we got out in transition,” Flyers coach Anthony Grant said. “It was a rough start, but I thought once our defense was able to get stops, the transition opened up and that’s where we built our lead.”
The Flyers are averaging 18.7 turnovers after committing 15 in a 66-63 victory over Eastern Illinois to start the season, 19 in a 66-64 loss to SMU and 22 against Northern Kentucky.
“It’s going to be hard for us to accomplish what we want to accomplish (with that many turnovers),” Grant said. “We can’t accept in victory what we wouldn’t accept in defeat. We’ll figure it out. I still believe this team can figure it out.
The Saturday contest will be the Flyers’ first game away from home.
–Field Level Media