Daily Journal reports
LAS VEGAS – Mississippi State is now one win shy of its 2012-13 total.
The Bulldogs (9-2) won their fourth consecutive game, edging South Florida 71-66 as part of the Las Vegas Classic on Sunday.
“We’ve got a chance to build our resume and get wins, but more importantly we’ve got a chance to win a championship,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “Even though this is the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, it’s still a championship. You’ll never get a chance to win the bigger championships if you don’t win the small ones first.”
The Bulldogs will face the winner of the UNLV-Santa Clara matchup played later Sunday. Tipoff for the championship game is set for 9:30 p.m. CT on the CBSSports Network.
UNLV features former MSU point guard DeVille Smith, who transferred following the 2011-12 season.
On Sunday, Fred Thomas paced MSU with 14 points in 28 minutes off the bench. Thomas shot 4-of-7 behind the arc and sealed the game with a steal with seven seconds remaining.
Gavin Ware had 10 points and 15 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year. Colin Borchert scored 11 points while Craig Sword and Roquez Johnson added 10 apiece.
The Bulldogs’ bench outscored USF 26-9.
State fell behind by seven points early but battled back with a 7-0 run to tie things up at the 11:47 mark. The Bulldogs closed out the first half leading 38-35 despite a 3-pointer at the buzzer by the Bulls.
“We did a good job getting back in there,” Ray said. “We didn’t have our spirits going about us at the very beginning. We were doing some things defensively that we weren’t supposed to be doing. I think we corrected those things.”
USF (8-3)saw its four-game winning streak come to an end. Victor Rudd led the Bulls with 17 points and 11 rebounds.