By Logan Lowery
TUPELO – It was another slow start in the first half for Mississippi State on Friday night.
And again Craig Sword carried the Bulldogs on his back for a comeback win.
Sword scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half as MSU rallied over Southeastern Louisiana 68-62 in front of 2,035 fans at the BancorpSouth Arena.
“When it came down to it at the end, coach told me to come off a ball screen and make a play,” Sword said. “I got in foul trouble and couldn’t close out the first half like I wanted to. I came out and played hard in the second half so that we could get the win.”
Sword finished the game knocking down 9-of-11 from the field while adding three rebounds, three assists, three steals and no turnovers. He has eclipsed the 20-plus point mark in each of his last three outings to become the first Bulldog to do so since Arnett Moultrie in 2011-12.
In his last three games, Sword has made 26 of his 35 shots, scored 70 points and tallied 10 steals.
“Chicken is just playing phenomenal at this point in time,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “The numbers he’s put up the last three games, he’s shooting about 80-percent from the field and that’s just unheard of for a guard. Those are big man, Wilt Chamberlain type numbers.”
State shot 54.3-percent from the field and improved to 4-0 all-time in Tupelo.
“Our guys have got to start feeling better about themselves with these wins,” Ray said. “Just because we have a close game against Southeastern Louisiana, guys don’t feel great about it. I know we’ve got some problems like on the free throw line but at the end of the day, we’re 6-2.”
Gavin Ware and Colin Borchert each added nine points in the paint for the Bulldogs. Roquez Johnson left the game at the 8:11 mark of the first half with a left knee injury and did not return.
The Bulldogs trailed 33-32 at halftime after Southeastern Louisiana’s Julian Chiera drained a 3-pointer with three-seconds remaining.
The Lions (3-6) shot 39.7-percent from the floor but was just 6-of-24 behind the arc. Antonnio Benton led the Lions with 26 points.
Mississippi State returns to action hosting Florida A&M at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.