BATON ROUGE, La. – A fast start was not enough for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team Saturday night.
MSU built an early 14-point lead but a strong offensive shooting by LSU proved way too much to overcome. LSU rallied ahead for good in the closing minutes of the first half and cruised to an 88-77 victory at Maravich Assembly Center.
With the win, LSU improved to a 15-8 overall and 8-2 in league play, while remaining in first place in the conference standings. MSU fell to 9-13 and 2-8.
Playing without the services of I.J. Ready, the Bulldogs still placed five in double figures. Gavin Ware led the way with 14 points, while Quinndary Weatherspoon, Malik Newman and Craig Sword each finished with 12 points. Fred Thomas added 10 points.
Behind two 3-point baskets from Sword, the Bulldogs quickly built an early 8-0 lead. The lead grew to 10 at 14-4 on a layup by Sword. The strong offense early continued as a 3-pointer and two free throws by Thomas extended the lead to 22-8.
LSU responded with a 10-1 run to close within five at 23-18 with 10:23 left before halftime. Ben Simmons hit a pair of free throws to pull the Tigers within one at 25-24. Back-to-back treys by Weatherspoon ran the lead back to seven for MSU at 31-24.
LSU roared ahead on a steal and dunk by Craig Victor II, at 34-33 with 3:48 left.
MSU would then hold one last lead before LSU ended the half on a 9-0 run for a 43-35 lead at the break.
LSU later used a 14-3 run midway through the second half to open a 67-47 advantage with 11:28 left. From there, the Bulldogs were again within 11 points twice and 12 points two others time but could not pull any closer.
For the contest, MSU hit 29 of 66 shots from the field (43.9 percent), 7 of 23 shots from 3-point range (30.4 percent) and 12 of 16 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). LSU hit 32 of 61 shots from the field (52.5 percent), 10 of 22 shots from 3-point range (45.5 percent) and 14 of 23 shots from the foul line (60.9 percent).
MSU held a 38-36 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 12 assists and 10 turnovers, while the Tigers had 25 assists and eight turnovers.
Antonio Blakeney led LSU with 31 points. Keith Hornsby added 25 points and Simmons added 16 points. Simmons also had a game-high nine rebounds.
MSU opens a three-game homestand with Arkansas at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The contest will be televised nationally on the SEC Network from the Humphrey Coliseum.
(From MSU Media Relations)