Dec 19, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Rick Ray during the game against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Humphrey Coliseum. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeat Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 66-53. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State beats South Florida in Las Vegas Classic

MSU basketball is proving their doubters wrong. After a 71-66 victory over South Florida Sunday night for their 4th straight win they advance to 9-2 on the year. In last season’s rebuild, the 9th win of the year didn’t come until the final regular season game vs. Auburn.

Fred Thomas has his stroke back. He had a nice offensive game on Thursday and he was able to put it together again from three-point range, going 4 of 7 and putting up 14 points to lead State in scoring – the first time in a while someone other than Craig Sword has done so. Sword had 10 points of his own to make five Bulldogs in double figures.

Gavin Ware notched his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points, 15 boards.

It was a back and forth game all night, but the Dawgs scrapped for a victory. The signature of this team is becoming staunch defense and it is translating into W’s. Some of the too-close-for-comfort wins against poor competition may be paying off now, however, as it appears as though State knows how to find a way to win. This was the 5th win by 10 points or less.

The Florida Gulf Coast game just three days ago appeared to be MSU’s biggest win to date, but since USF is from a power conference (American Athletic), this win may top it.

Mississippi State has a chance to win the Las Vegas Classic on Monday night against UNLV at 9:30 CST. The game will be on CBS Sports Net.  UNLV beat Santa Clara to advance to the title game. Former MSU guard, Deville Smith, plays for them.

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