MSU Drops 5th Straight
Mississippi State surrendered a 14-point second half lead, dropping a 55-49 overtime decision to Texas A&M in a Southeastern Conference men’s basketball game played at the Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs shot 66.7 percent in the game’s opening half and stretched the advantage to as many as 14 in the early stages of the second half. Alas, the Aggies responded with a 16-2 run and the game remained tight the rest of the way.
MSU dropped its fifth straight in league play, while falling to 7-12 overall and 2-5 in conference play. Texas A&M improved to 13-7 and 3-4. It was the first meeting between the two schools as conference rivals.
“It is time for us to get back to the way we were doing things with the 2-0 start (in SEC play),” MSU junior guard Jalen Steele said. “We got to go back and get that focus and motivation and go back to those ways. There is a still a lot of this season left.”
Craig Sword tied the contest with an off-balanced 3-point basket with 5.9 seconds left in regulation. After MSU’s Colin Borchert scored on the opening possession of overtime, the Bulldogs did not score again.
“I am disappointed in the loss because I thought we came out and played hard and really competed,” MSU head coach Rick Ray. “In the final 16 minutes of the first half, we held them to seven points. In the second half, we played hard but two things killed us.
“The turnovers killed us. The turnovers gave them easy baskets. Our big men also didn’t finish in the second half. This is hard for our guys because we competed the way I wanted us, too.”
In the early stages of the first half, the Bulldogs pulled away from a 10-10 tie by scoring 10 straight points. MSU was sharp on both ends, with Jalen Steele being a catalyst offensive and defensively. Steele hit a 3-point basket and a free throw, while Gavin Ware broke loose inside for six points, including two dunks.
The Aggies chipped away with the game’s next five points, before MSU rolled out to a 27-15 advantage behind another trey by Steele and a jumper in the lane by Ware.
MSU hit 10-of-15 first-half attempts from the field, forced 13 turnovers and led 29-17 at the intermission.
Texas A&M forced some turnovers of its own on the game-tying 16-2 run. A 3-point play by Alex Caruso and follow-up basket by Elston Turner tied the contest at 33. Turner was held scoreless in the game’s first half but finished with 11 points.
Neither team led by more than one possession over the final 13-plus minutes. Sword’s game-tying shot came after a miss from Steele from long range.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 16 of 40 shots from the field (40.0 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 11 of 16 shots from the foul line (68.8 percent). The Aggies hit 25 of 53 shots from the field (47.2 percent), 2 of 16 shots from 3-point range (12.5 percent) and 3 of 3 shots from the foul line (100 percent).
Texas A&M held a 31-24 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 24 turnovers, while the Aggies had nine assists and 22 turnovers.
“If we had taken care of the basketball, we would have won the game,” Ray said. “We just can’t give the other team easy points.”
Ware had a conference-game career high with 14 points, while Borchert added 10 points.
Texas A&M received 17 points from Fabyon Haris, 11 points from Turner and 10 points from J’Mychal Reese. Kourtney Roberson had a game-high 12 rebounds for the Aggies.
MSU completed a three-game homestand by hosting LSU at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Fox Sports Net South will have the regional telecast from the Humphrey Coliseum.