Per MSU Media Relations
MSU senior Wendell Lewis had a career-high 20 points Tuesday
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray knew his team might have to win some defensive struggles this season.
The Bulldogs did just that Tuesday night.
MSU held Texas-San Antonio to 27 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers. On the offensive end, the Bulldogs did enough to post a 53-42 victory in a men’s basketball game played at the Humphrey Coliseum.
“I am extremely proud of the defensive effort tonight,” Ray said. “We knew we would have to win some ugly games this season. I thought we really played extremely well on the defensive end. We won one of those rugged, tough physical ballgames. When you play that well on the defensive end, good things will happen for you.”
MSU (3-5) was incredible on the defensive end Tuesday night. The Bulldogs recorded a season high seven blocked shots and also had nine steals – fourth best in a game this season.
“Defense is what makes our team go,” MSU senior Wendell Lewis said. “The coaches challenge us to always play hard on that end.”
For Lewis, strong defensive play has carried over to the offensive end. Fresh off a 16-point performance in Saturday’s loss at Providence, Lewis followed that performance up with a career-high 20 points, including an 8-of-9 night from the floor.
“Right now, I am feeling really good,” Lewis said. “I have continued to work hard. I have gotten my workouts in and I have tried to be a leader on the floor.”
Both teams battled through a nip-and-tuck first half before the Bulldogs put the clamps down on the defensive end.
After Lewis placed the Maroon and White on top 16-14 with a layup, neither team scored over the next 7:33. Lewis broke that draught with another basket and Fred Thomas followed that with a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 run.
UTSA (3-5) went 8:46 without a field goal before a dunk Larry Wilkins ran out the first half for the Roadrunners.
On the way to a 3-0 start at home, MSU led 23-17 at the intermission.
“We made some good decisions with the basketball but we couldn’t get shots to fall,” Ray said. “When that happens, you have to win a game on the defensive end. We forced 20 turnovers and that is a good number. On offense, we got things going in the second half.”
UTSA closed within 26-23 in the early stages of the second half. Over the next six minutes, the Bulldogs used a 13-6 run to build a 39-29 advantage. The lead would grow to as many as 12 on two difference occasions down the stretch.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit t 21 of 46 shots from the field (45.7 percent), 3 of 13 shots from 3-point range (23.1 percent) and 8 of 14 shots from the foul line (57.1 percent). The Roadrunners hit 15 of 55 shots from the field (27.3 percent), 7 of 29 shots from 3-point range (24.1 percent) and 5 of 9 shots from the foul line (55.6 percent).
UTSA held a 36-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 17 turnovers, while the Roadrunners had six assists and 20 turnovers.
Kannon Burrage paced UTSA with 15 points, while Hyjii Thomas added 10 points.
The Bulldogs will take an extended break for final examinations. MSU returns to action Dec. 15 with a 6 p.m. start at Loyola-Chicago.