STARKVILE, Miss. (WCBI Sports/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State sophomore forward Gavin Ware scored eight of his team-high 22 points in overtime Saturday afternoon.
Ware and his teammates dominated the extra session as Mississippi State knocked off Texas A&M 81-72 in a Southeastern Conference contest played at Humphrey Coliseum.
“We were grinding the whole game,” MSU sophomore guard Craig Sword said. “They were making a bunch of shots, but we had to stay confident on the defensive end. We knew we had a chance to win if we could put together some stops.”
For a second-straight Saturday, MSU staged a dramatic rally. A week ago, MSU rallied from down six points late to knock off Ole Miss, 76-72. Saturday, Texas A&M held a 52-42 lead with 12:19 left in the contest.
“This was a good win for us against a quality defense,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “Texas A&M is in the Top 15 in the nation in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. To score 81 points and to shoot close to 53 percent from the contest is very huge for this team.”
Ware dominated in the extra stanza as he posted his sixth double-double of the season with an 8-for-11 night from the field. He also had a team-high 10 rebounds. Sword led the team with 23 points. Also in double figures were Colin Borchert with 14 points and Fred Thomas with 13 points.
“I felt like I was the guy who needed to step up,” Ware said. “I knew my teammates were going to step up. I felt like this was my time to eat, as people would say. Coach always tells us to keep grinding out and keep getting the ball to the hole.”
With the win, MSU improved to 12-5 overall and 2-2 in league play. Texas A&M fell to 12-5 and 3-1. It was MSU’s first win against Texas A&M in Starkville.
Texas A&M scored the game’s first six points and held the upper hand for most of the first half.
The Bulldogs struggled early against the Aggies’ tenacious defensive unit and worked hard to get the offense on track. The Bulldogs were down 15-7 midway through the half.
MSU reeled off a 10-1 run to grab a 27-26 lead on a Fred Thomas 3-point basket with 1:32 left in the half. MSU held that lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Aggies went long distance to build the 52-42 lead. The Bulldogs were back within five at 57-52. Finally, MSU broke through and took the lead at 64-63 with 1:55 left on two Borchert free throws. Defensively, MSU held Texas A&M to an off-balanced 3-point shot attempt as regulation time expired.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 29-of-55 shots from the field (52.7 percent), 3 of 10 shots from 3-point range (30.0 percent) and 20 of 32 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent). The Aggies hit 25 of 56 shots from the field (44.6 percent), 8 of 20 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 14 of 21 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
MSU held a 38-33 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 16 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Aggies had 13 assists and 15 turnovers.
Texas A&M received 24 points from Jamal Jones and 20 points from Davonte Fitzgerald. Alex Caruso added 12 points.
MSU welcomes Auburn to the Humphrey Coliseum for a 7 p.m. start Wednesday.