COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Mississippi State’s best effort inside Southeastern Conference play Tuesday night could still not get the Bulldogs into the win column.
Led by a career-high 18 points from I.J. Ready, a furious comeback fell shot as Mississippi State dropped a 74-70 decision to Texas A&M in the Reed Arena.
“We started off not very good defensively,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “Then it got better. They were 4 of 16 there to end the half. I thought we locked in defensively because we felt better offensively. I thought the approach to this game was really good. The guys approached it like a business trip and played hard.”
Ready was one of four Bulldogs in double figures. He was joined by Travis Daniels with 14 points, Roquez Johnson with 13 points and Fred Thomas with 12 points.
MSU trailed by 10 points midway through the second half. The Bulldogs battled back and had the contest within a single possession twice in the final minute.
Texas A&M (10-5 overall, 1-2 SEC) had three different five-point leads before a layup by Kourtney Roberson ran the lead to 20-13 with 8:02 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs (7-9 overall, 0-3 SEC) battled back to a two-point deficit at 23-21 after a 3-pointer by Thomas. A layup by Trivante Bloodman a couple of possessions later again had the Bulldogs down a pair.
The teams were tied at 25-25 before Thomas hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 28-27 lead at the intermission.
Ready scored all 18 of his points in the second half and helped give the Bulldogs a chance.
After two Craig Sword free throws pushed the MSU lead to 30-27, Texas A&M took the lead for good at 31-30 on a layup by Alex Caruso, who was on his way to a 21-point night.
Texas A&M parlayed a 16-3 run into a 43-33 lead with 14:02 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs stormed back with the game’s next seven points to cut it to 43-40 on jumper by Ready.
MSU fell back down 10 points at 58-48 with 3:12 left. However, a pair of critical treys by Ready and Thomas gave the Maroon and White a chance. Texas A&M hit enough free throws to seal its first conference win.
“At the end, you have to put pressure on in the paint area,” Ray said. “Oliver Black and Roquez Johnson did a good job of keeping some balls alive. You don’t (want to be down 10), but I was proud of how we executed some situations down the stretch.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 59 shots from the field (35.6 percent), 10 of 23 shots from 3-point range (43.5 percent) and 18 of 26 shots from the foul line (69.2 percent). The Aggies hit 21 of 44 shots from the field (47.7 percent), 4 of 8 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 28 of 44 shots from the foul line (63.6 percent).
MSU held a 36-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 10 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Aggies had 11 assists and 13 turnovers.
The Bulldogs finished with a season-high 10 3-points baskets, including a 4 of 8 night from long range by both Thomas and Daniels. Ready added four steals and two assists in 27 minutes of play. Daniels and Johnson each had a team-high seven rebounds.
Caruso was followed in the scoring column by Danuel House with 19 points, Jalen Jones with 16 points and Roberson with 10 points. Caruso had a game-high nine rebounds.
MSU will host Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Humphrey Coliseum. The game will be available regionally on Fox Sports Net South.
(From MSU Media Relations)