Bulldogs’ home dominance of Auburn continues

Lee Adams | Special to the Journal Mississippi State guard Craig Sword follows through on a dunk while Auburn guard KT Harrell looks up in the closing seconds of the first half.

Lee Adams | Special to the Journal
Mississippi State guard Craig Sword follows through on a dunk while Auburn guard KT Harrell looks up in the closing seconds of the first half.

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – The home success continues for Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs hit 13 free throws in the final two minutes to improve to 3-0 in SEC play inside Humphrey Coliseum with an 82-74 victory over Auburn on Wednesday evening.

“I’m happy with the way our team found a way to win this game,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “We had a comedy of errors defensively down the stretch. But even with all the errors that we had on the defensive end, the bottom line was we were able to persevere through that because we made our free throws.”

The Bulldogs (13-5, 3-2) are 11-1 in Starkville this season and have won 13 of the last 14 against Auburn in Humphrey Coliseum.

State shot 50 percent from the field and hit seven 3-pointers. Roquez Johnson paced the Bulldogs with 18 points in 34 minutes off the bench.

Colin Borchert scored 17 points and had three 3-pointers while Fred Thomas finished with 14 points and Trivante Bloodman chipped in 13.

Mississippi State’s leading scorers on the year – Craig Sword and Gavin Ware – had just two points at halftime and combined for just 10 in the game. Both were in foul trouble with Sword fouling out with 2:49 remaining and Ware playing just 10 minutes.

“Chicken (Sword) is probably our go-to guy because of the way he can attack the rim and make plays,” Ray said. “But when that’s not happening you’ve got have some other guys make plays.

“I think you saw some more guys step up and make plays in the absence of Chicken and Gavin not scoring on the offensive end.”

Auburn built a nine point lead midway through the first half but the Bulldogs closed on a 16-2 over the final 6:06 to take a 82-74 halftime lead.

“The biggest thing with that is we ended the half getting 10 of 12 stops,” Ray said. “When we got stops we were able to run out and didn’t have to worry about the zone or what defense they were in.”

Auburn dropped to 0-5 in SEC play and 8-8 on the year. KT Harrell led all scorers with 24 points.

MSU travels to Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m. on WCBI.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com