Head coach Dana Ford changed up his normal player rotations to spark his lineup, but the Bears still lost 74-68 to No. 12 Brigham Young.
Ford was quick to make a change after BYU got off to a 5-0 lead. MSU’s leading scorers, junior guard Isiaih Mosley and senior forward Gaige Prim, went to the bench in exchange for players like sophomore guard Lu’Cye Patterson and freshman guard Isaac Haney.
The move worked, as the Bears were close for a majority of the first half. An 1-11 shooting run heading into halftime put MSU down 35-27.
Coming out of halftime, Ford went with his original starting lineup. He then pulled a few of after BYU went up 14. Patterson, Haney and senior guard Jaylen Minnett played at an energetic pace to pull the Bears close again, getting as close as three points near the nine-minute mark. The game continued to be close as both squads traded points down the stretch.
MSU came within one point of tying multiple times, but BYU always answered to widen its lead. The Cougars held on to win 74-68.
Minnett led Missouri State with 17, followed by Prim and Patterson with 16 apiece.
Patterson and Haney both played 25 minutes or more, and Minnett played 31. Conversely, Mosley only played seven. Those numbers are a significant departure from how the Bears normally play.
“When guys on the bench are given an opportunity and play well, you stay with them,” Ford said. “And I thought that’s what we had there in the first half. (Patterson, Haney and Minnett) have all played well all year, but they were playing really well today. They capitalized on their opportunity. I thought for sure that group of guards we’re going to give us the best chance to win.”
Patterson has been seeing an expanded role as senior point guard Demarcus Sharp is out with a leg injury. He said Sharp has been telling him to prepare to play more for awhile now.
“(Sharp) is a great point guard, I love hanging out with him off the court,” Patterson said. “He’s someone you can really follow. Every day he’s telling me ‘you next up, you need to take the team on.’”
Ford said the game was one he could build off of as a coach.
“I thought our guys really fought hard,” Ford said. “The No. 1 key for us was keeping them off the glass. First half they didn’t have any offensive rebounds. The emotion, and the passion, and the communication and guys just having fun playing basketball are things we can build on.”
The Bears play next at Little Rock on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Follow Stephen Terrill on Twitter, @stevethe2nd
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