UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Josh Hubbard continues wasting no time making memorable moments in Maroon and White. The sensational freshman’s latest feat came on Sunday to carry Mississippi State to a title.
Hubbard racked up 29 points off the bench to help the Bulldogs rally from a big early deficit and claim a 66-57 victory over Northwestern to win the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament championship. The rookie shot 9-of-14 from the field, including 4-for-8 from behind the 3-point line to power State offensively. With four straight double-digit scoring games, including a pair of 20-plus-point efforts in that stretch, Hubbard keeps showing he’s not your average freshman.
“What about him, man?” MSU head coach Chris Jans said of Hubbard. “He was a big reason why we won the game. The kid’s got a ton of confidence. I talked about him [a lot] already in his infant career, but I don’t get tired of talking about him because he’s all about the right stuff. He’s earned these moments already because of his work ethic, because of the type of kid he is, the quality of his character, the work that he’s put in prior to coming here and he’s ready for this stage. It’s very obvious. He’s just mature beyond his years.”
Hubbard insists his hot start to the season, including his big day Sunday, is more a credit to those around him than anything.
“My teammates trust me,” Hubbard explained. “We built a lot of chemistry over the summer. And we practice hard. We practice really hard. God blessed me with some ability, and we have a great coach who’s a leader that knows how to lead us to wins.”
Jans certainly pulled all the right strings Sunday as the Bulldogs improved to a perfect 5-0 for the season. The bench boss of the Bulldogs’ first order of business? He simply had to find a way to keep State in the game.
Northwestern scored the first 11 points of the contest and led 15-3 less than eight minutes in. The Bulldogs appeared to be in trouble. But there was no panic.
“We just wanted to stay positive,” Hubbard said. “We didn’t hang our heads down because we knew we had a lot of ballgame left. We just kept with the gameplan and adjusted a few things to stop their momentum.”
Slowly, the Dawgs battled back. MSU couldn’t capture a first-half lead but did send a message just prior to the intermission when Hubbard sank a trey to send the teams to the locker room with State down just 29-27.
The Bulldogs kept surging in the final 20 minutes of action. With 14:10 to go, a Dashawn Davis jumper gave MSU its first lead of the day at 39-38. Then, after a back-and-forth few minutes of action, it was Hubbard that delivered maybe the game’s biggest blow.
Northwestern went up 48-47 with 7:02 left. However MSU answered with a pair of layups – one from Cameron Matthews and one from Jimmy Bell Jr. to put State in front 51-48.
It set the stage for a Hubbard 3-pointer with 5:43 on the clock that gave the Dawgs a six-point edge. Northwestern got no closer the rest of the contest and State ultimately won itself a trophy to bring back to Starkville.
Of course, they’ll also be bringing back Hubbard, who says Sunday only served to fuel the fire inside himself and his team.
“We’re not done yet,” Hubbard said. “We’re going to go practice even harder now. Get back home and get ready for this next one.”
Hubbard and the Bulldogs return to action on Friday. That’s when State hosts Nicholls in a 1 p.m. contest at Humphrey Coliseum.