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Mississippi State Men's Basketball Defeats South Dakota, Improves to 4-0

The Bulldogs' men's basketball team is still undefeated after Thursday night's win
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Mississippi State's men's basketball team defeated South Dakota by a score of 79-42 on Thursday in Starkville, improving its season record to 4-0.

Four games into his first season with the Bulldogs, head coach Chris Jans and his squad continue to dominate on the court. MSU held South Dakota to only 15% shooting in the first half and pulled down an impressive 21 offensive rebounds.

Jans wanted to utilize the athletic strengths of his players, and it showed on the court when they scored a season-high 30 points off of 17 turnovers.

“We talked a lot in pregame about just really trying to get our defense into the game from the jump,” Jans said. “We knew we were going to be more athletic; we wanted them to feel us physically on that end of the floor, and just be athletic in guarding the ball, closeouts, checks and I thought for the most part we did that.”

Forward Tolu Smith continued to flash on the court, going off with 16 points, six rebounds and shooting 7-of-12 from the field. Guard Cam Matthews also shined in Thursday's victory, recording 14 points, six rebounds and shooting a perfect 6-of-6 throughout the contest.

"I feel like our team is really good on that first possession," Matthews said after the game. "But when they get a second try on a possession is when we get hurt. So that is what we have to stop."

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Coach Jans was all about rebounding going into the game, a statistic he heavily wanted to focus on.

"Rebounding has always been an emphasis, but [Jans] has been unhappy with it lately," Matthews said. "We've been winning them, but not to his standard. He wants excellence out of all of us. He's preached it and preached it, and we just went out and did it."

"It's something we emphasize," Jans said. "It's something we talk about each and every timeout. We keep track of who's crashing and who's not. We use that to try and motivate them that if they want to stay on the court, they need to get active on the backboards. We track it every day in practice. That's one of the qualities we have right now is we have some length and some guys that can move. Hopefully, they'll continue to be hungry on the backboards."

The student section showed up in droves as well, with Bulldog fans loudly cheering their support for Coach Jans and his team during garbage time, when the reserves took the court.

"I just think we are trying to create a buzz and acknowledge them for supporting these kids that are pouring their heart out on the floor," Jans said. "We need that environment and it starts with the students. They were great tonight."

While the Bulldogs have looked dominant in Humphrey Coliseum, they still have a long season ahead of them. Next week, they will travel to play Marquette in the Fort Myers Tipoff in Fort Myers, FL.

"We're excited, but we're not getting settled," forward DJ Jeffries said. "We've got a big test coming on Monday."