By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State was closer to victory than it’s been in a while, but it couldn’t close the deal Wednesday night.
Freshman point guard J’Mychael Reese scored six of his team’s eight overtime points, and Texas A&M escaped Humphrey Coliseum with a 55-49 win.
That snapped a four-game losing streak for the Aggies (13-7, 3-4 SEC) and extended MSU’s losing skid to five games. The previous four losses were by an average of 27 points.
MSU (7-12, 2-5) saw a 12-point lead evaporate in the second half, but a slew of turnovers by both teams kept it close the rest of the way. State committed 24 turnovers, A&M 22.
MSU scored in OT first, on Colin Borchert’s jumper, but Reese hit a pair of buckets, the second making it 51-49 with 1:47 left. Elston Turner sealed it with a tough jumper with 26 seconds left.
Turner, the Aggies’ leading scorer this season, was held to no points in the first half and finished with 11 on 5-of-13 shooting.
Gavin Ware led MSU with 14 points, while Borchert added 10. MSU shot 40 percent overall, while Texas A&M was 47.2 percent.
Fabyon Harris led the Aggies with 17 points. His layin gave Texas A&M a 47-44 lead with 1:30 to go, and it stayed that way until the final seconds.
After an A&M miss, Jalen Steele was short on a 3-pointer, but Craig Sword got the long rebound and banked in a three with 5 seconds to go, tying the game.
Reese’s floater at the horn was off the mark.
Fred Thomas, who was averaging 15 points over his last four games, had just two points on 0-of-3 shooting.
“I don’t know, I guess mentally we ran out of gas, but physically we were good,”Steele said. “We just made little mistakes toward the end of the game.”
Two free throws by Thomas gave State a 29-17 halftime lead, by which point the Aggies had committed 13 turnovers.
It was only MSU’s second halftime lead in SEC play this season, and its largest since leading New Orleans 43-16.
Only three Bulldogs had even attempted a shot by halftime, but they were a combined 10 of 15 from the floor.
That halftime lead vanished rather quickly, as the Aggies used a 16-2 run and tied the game at 33-33 on Turner’s jumper with 13:32 left.
“I’m proud of our guys for fighting back in the second half, and our small lineup was able to speed the game up and create baskets for us,” A&M coach Bill Kennedy said. “I’m proud of Elston because I challenged him at halftime.”
Alex Caruso gave A&M its first lead since very early in the game, his fast-break layup making it 39-37. But MSU answered with a 3-pointer by Sword.