COLUMBIA, Mo. (MSU Athletics) – A 15-0 second-half run put an end to Mississippi State’s comeback hopes in Southeastern Conference men’s basketball action Saturday afternoon.
Playing without leading scorer Craig Sword due to a death in the family, short-handed MSU could not recover from that late run, falling 85-66 to Missouri at the Mizzou Arena.
With the win, Missouri improved to 20-9 overall and 8-8 in league play. MSU dropped its 11th straight decision to fall to 13-16 and 3-13.
“The main thing in this game is when it went from a (Missouri) 12-point lead to a 27-point lead, we quite simply didn’t respond,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “We got the ball into the paint but didn’t finish at the rim. They got the ball inside and did finish.
“Missouri has the most lethal backcourt combination in this league. They are very good in open space and their size was the main difference in the ballgame.”
The Bulldogs did hit a season-high 10 3-point baskets, including four by Fred Thomas. The Bulldogs shot 40.7 percent and more than held their own on the boards despite a huge size advantage for the Tigers.
Missouri quickly built a 12-6 advantage on a Ryan Rossburg with 15:53 left in the half. The Bulldogs were back within two on a Trivante Bloodman 3-point basket and later within a single point on a Roquez Johnson 3-point play.
Missouri followed with a 7-0 run to grab a 28-20 lead on a Wes Clark jumper with 7:36 left in the half. The Tigers dominated in the early stages with some easy baskets in transition.
After MSU closed within four, Missouri responded with a 17-8 run to end the half with a 45-32 advantage.
A layup by Bloodman brought the Bulldogs within 51-39 with 16:53 left in the contest. The Tigers followed with the game-deciding 15-0 run.
“We have got to find a way to stop guys,” Ray said. “We have no chance to win when the other team shoots 63 percent from the field. The question is what happens when you face adversity? We have to do better when adversity happens during a game. After the 15-0 run, we were done.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24 of 59 shots from the field (40.7 percent), 10 of 24 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 8 of 12 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Tigers hit 33 of 53 shots from the field (62.3 percent), 8 of 19 shots from 3-point range (42.1 percent) and 11 of 15 shots from the foul line (73.3 percent).
Missouri held a 32-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 12 turnovers, while the Tigers had 19 assists and nine turnovers.
Thomas paced MSU with 18 points, while Gavin Ware added 13 points.
Missouri received 21 points from Jabari Brown, 14 points from Keanau Post, 14 points from Jordan Clarkson and 11 points from Earnest Ross.
MSU returns to action Wednesday at Georgia. The SEC’s Battle of the Bulldogs is set for a 6 p.m. CT start and will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast.