STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Gavin Ware was a very good player for Mississippi State over his first three seasons.
If the first six games of his senior season are any indication, he may be on his way to becoming a great player.
Ware scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Mississippi State over UT Martin 76-51 on Saturday. The 6-foot-9 forward made 9 of 12 shots from the field, scoring on an array of offensive moves that included alley-oops, slick post moves and baseline jumpers.
''Obviously Gavin had another incredible game offensively for us,'' Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. ''He was 25 of 26 from the field over the last three practices, so we were almost a little let down when he missed three shots today. He hasn't been missing at all. It's incredible how good he is around the basket.''
Freshman Quinndary Weatherspoon added 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting for the Bulldogs (3-3), who won their second straight. Ware earned his second double-double of the season.
''It's just being more mature the way I go about playing,'' Ware said. ''I'm not necessarily trying to be the focal point, but being a guy that my teammates can lean on down the stretch.''
Mississippi State led 36-29 at halftime.
UT Martin (2-5) proved a pesky opponent for much of the afternoon, cutting Mississippi State's lead to 38-35 with about 16 minutes remaining on a short jumper by Chandler Rowe. But Mississippi State responded with an 18-0 run - highlighted by eight points from Ware - to push UT Martin away for good. The Skyhawks didn't score for more than eight minutes.
Mississippi State outrebounded UT Martin 43-27.
UT Martin was led by Myles Taylor and Richard Lee, who both scored 11.
Ware has been a solid player at Mississippi State throughout his career and averaged 10 points per game last season as a junior. But his production has spiked so far this season - after Saturday's game he's averaging about 20 points and seven rebounds while shooting 70 percent from the field.
He's slowly remade his body over four years, transforming from a slightly doughy freshman to a sleek senior who can play for much longer stretches without getting tired. He's now listed at 260 pounds and is just as adept at shooting 17-foot jumpers as scoring in the paint.
''It's an endless process,'' Ware said. ''We just work day in and day out trying to get my body to perform at the next level.''
Mississippi State prized freshman recruit Malik Newman had a tough game. He scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Mississippi State: Ware became the 35th player in school history to score 1,000 career points during Sunday's win over Missouri State.
UT Martin: The Skyhawks shot just 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) in the second half.
Mississippi State hosts Texas Southern on Wednesday.
UT Martin at UMKC on Tuesday.
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