By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – For the second year in a row, it took overtime to decide a battle between Mississippi State and Texas A&M at Humphrey Coliseum.
This time, it went the Bulldogs’ way.
Gavin Ware had a steal and putback under the Bulldogs’ goal with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 67. Ware went on to score eight of MSU’s 15 points in the overtime period for an 81-72 victory
“I just felt like I needed to be a guy that stepped up,” Ware said. “I knew my teammates were going to step up, too. Texas A&M had their smaller guys in so I felt like it was my time to eat as people say. I just used that advantage to my ability and just found a way to grind it out and was able to score in the post.
Ware finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and eighth of his career.
The Bulldogs shot 52.7 percent for the game after hitting 14 of 22 from the field in the second half. Most of State’s shots were the high percentage kind – with 44 points in the paint and 16 more on fast breaks.
“We’re a running team and we want to get the ball up the court as quick as possible,” said MSU guard Fred Thomas.
Craig Sword led the Bulldogs with 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Sword also added six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Colin Borchert had 14 points and Thomas contributed 13 points as Mississippi State improved to 12-5 on the year and 2-2 inside Southeastern Conference play.
The Bulldogs outscored Texas A&M 14-5 during overtime limiting the Aggies to just one field goal and three free throws. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Texas A&M (12-5) and handed the Aggies their first league loss (3-1).
Texas A&M, which won 55-49 here last season, shot 44.6 percent for the game, including 8 of 20 from 3-point range. Jamal Jones led all scorers with 24 points before being ejected in the overtime period after receiving two technical fouls.
Davonte Fitzgerald added 20 points in 32 minutes off the bench and Alex Caruso chipped in 12 points.
MSU continues its homestand against Auburn on Wednesday at 7 p.m.