STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) McNeese State shot 52 percent and made 8-of-17 three-pointers Tuesday as the Cowboys defeated Mississippi State 66-47 for their first-ever win in Starkville.
McNeese State (6-5) got 20 points from Desharick Guidry to pace four Cowboys in double digits. Jamaya Burr had 13 for McNeese State while Austin Lewis and Matthew Moss had 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The loss was the sixth in seven games for the Bulldogs (6-6). Craig Sword had a season-high 11 points for Mississippi State while I.J. Ready had 10 points. The 47 points was a season low for the Bulldogs.
''We are very blessed to get this win and it is a great win for our university,'' said McNeese State coach Dave Simmons. ''It was one of those things where our guys came ready to play. We changed up our rotations and it really helped us tonight. We've got some good shooters but we haven't shot this well this season. We got off to a great start and we're able to control the tempo. This was probably our best game - from start to finish - this year.''
McNeese State jumped to an 8-0 lead and hit its first five shots from the field. Mississippi State closed the Cowboys' lead to 17-13 mid-way through the first half before the Cowboys reeled off a 9-0 run to build the lead to 26-13. McNeese State maintained that advantage the remainder of the first half and led 36-23 at halftime.
Mississippi State shot just 41.9 percent for the game and was just 4-of-15 on three-pointers. The Bulldogs had just six assists and had 10 turnovers.
''I thought that we have a problem here right now just finding five guys we can count on to consistently start off the game with,'' said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray. ''Right now we have some fractures on our team. The thing I am most concerned about is, offensively we have our struggles and we have to find guys with a combination to help us offensively and also play hard.
''I thought our first two years here, everybody complimented us on how hard we played and competed. That part should be getting better but it isn't and we have to find a way to fix that. Our team doesn't know how to win and that confidence is gone.''
In the first half, McNeese State shot 56 percent from the floor, including a 5-of-7 showing beyond the three-point arc. Mississippi State did shoot 48 percent in the opening half but also had seven first-half turnovers.
Ready made three of Mississippi State's four three-pointers on the night and all of those came in the second half.
''We just never got our energy going,'' said Ready. ''We've only had one good practice since we've been back (from Christmas break) so it starts there. It's like we take one step forward and two steps back. I don't know if it is just us but we have to figure it out and try to get on a roll when we play Florida State (Friday).''
McNeese State maintained a double-digit lead for the entire second half and led by as many as 23 points. The Cowboys out-rebounded the Bulldogs 30-21 and had 15 assists and just eight turnovers. Lewis led McNeese State with nine rebounds.
McNeese State: Tuesday night's game was the fourth Power 5 conference opponent for the Cowboys this season and that included losses at Baylor, TCU and LSU. McNeese State entered Tuesday night's game rated as having the nation's second-toughest schedule.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs lost to McNeese State for the first time at Humphrey Coliseum after winning the previous four meetings in Starkville. Mississippi State is also 51-5 all-time against teams from the Southland Conference. The Bulldogs conclude their non-conference schedule Friday against Florida State before opening SEC play on Jan. 7 at home against Tennessee. Junior center Gavin Ware missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.
McNeese State hosts Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.
Mississippi State will host Florida State Friday.