NEW ORLEANS, La. – Mississippi State fought valiantly but could not make enough shots to win its first true road game of the men’s basketball season.
MSU erased a seven-point lead in the second half but could not close the deal, falling 59-54 at Devlin Fieldhouse.
“We weren’t able to finish at the rim,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “We had some stops there in the second half but we couldn’t score after we made them. Our transition defense was simply not good enough today. It led to too many open shots for their guards. Tulane has really good guard play and their guys made some open shots.”
The contest was nip-and-tuck throughout with six tied scores and 10 lead changes.
MSU (5-2) built an early two-point lead at 7-5 on a Fred Thomas 3-pointer. The Bulldogs were again on top at 14-12 and 16-14 on layup attempts by Roquez Johnson. The Bulldogs would continue the strong inside play early to stretch the lead to 22-18 on a jumper by I.J. Ready.
Tulane (7-1) followed with an 8-2 run to end the half for a 28-26 lead at the intermission.
MSU shot 38.5 percent in the opening half but made only 1-of-7 shots from 3-point range.
“We relied on the outside shot a little too much there early,” Ray said. “I thought we defended well but we were not as patient as we needed to be on offense. Once we got the big men into a flow, it opened up more offensive opportunities for us.”
MSU managed only one field goal over the final 5:04 of the opening half. A similar draught took place early in the second frame as Tulane built a 41-34 lead with 14:16 left in the contest. Two baskets by Gavin Ware were the only MSU field goals over the first six minutes of the second half.
Down 45-38, the Bulldogs turned to defensive pressure to get back in the contest. MSU pieced together an 11-3 run to take a 49-48 lead on a Fred Thomas 3-pointer with 6:06 left.
The lead would change hands a couple of times before Tulane took the lead for good on a Louis Dabney basket at 56-54 with 2:06 left in the game. The Bulldogs had only one field goal over the 5:30 of play.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 55 shots from the field (38.2 percent), 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range (15.4 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent). The Green Wave hit 23 of 54 shots from the field (42.6 percent), 7 of 19 shots from 3-point range (36.8 percent) and 6 of 11 shots from the foul line (54.5 percent).
Tulane held a 37-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had eight assists and 14 turnovers, while the Green Wave had 13 assists and 16 turnovers.
Travis Daniels led MSU with 13 points and nine rebounds in a season-high 34 minutes of play. Ware added 11 points but was held to three rebounds. Johnson was also in double figures with 10 points. Trivante Bloodman had five assists, while Thomas had three steals.
Tulane received 17 points from Jay Hook and 13 points from Jonathan Stark.
The Bulldogs will not play this week due to final exams. MSU will play Oregon State at 3 p.m. CT Saturday in Corvallis, Oregon. That contest will be televised nationally by the Pac-12 Network.
(From MSU Media Relations)