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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) —  For a second straight contest, Mississippi State could not build on a near-flawless first half.

(AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
MSU forward Gavin Ware goes up for a dunk in the Bulldogs’ 69-68 defeat to LSU on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs saw a 17-point lead slip away as LSU rallied to win on a last-second shot at Humphrey Coliseum, 69-68.

LSU (12-7 overall, 3-5 conference) secured the victory when Anthony Hickey hit a running jumper in the lane with 1.4 seconds left.

MSU (7-13 overall, 2-6 conference) saw a 12-point halftime lead slip away in a 55-49 overtime defeat to Texas A&M Wednesday night. The three-game homestand ended in similar fashion as the Bulldogs saw a 40-26 halftime lead get away Saturday.

“This one hurts because it is the second time we had a close game at home that we had a chance to win,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “This is the second game in a row where we didn’t finish. Not to take anything away from LSU, but we beat ourselves and that is what is disappointing.

“We play hard on the defensive end but if you make turnovers and don’t make free throws, it is hard to win games.”

LSU only held four leads in the contest. The Tigers had initial leads of 2-0 and 5-4 but would not lead again until Hickey’s first shot late.

The Bulldogs quickly sprinted to a 22-8 advantage with 11 straight points. Gavin Ware scored a pair of baskets during the run, including a monster dunk for the 14-point advantage.

Minutes later, the Maroon and White ran the advantage to 13 on a Jalen Steele 3-point shot. The lead would stretch to as many as 17 on a Roquez Johnson dunk at 36-19 with 3:20 left in the half.

MSU shot 57.1 percent from the floor in the opening half and led 40-26 at the intermission. In the second half, the Bulldogs struggled against LSU full-court pressure and hit only 8-of-20 free throw attempts.

“We have to do a better job of finishing games,” Ray said. “We have to make that extra play to find a way to win games like this.”

Texas A&M rallied in the early stages of the second half Wednesday night. LSU needed much more time to pull even.

The Tigers were within single digits less than five minutes into the game’s final half. LSU would later close within seven before MSU ran the lead back out to 12 at 55-43 on a 3-point play by Ware and follow-up basket by Craig Sword.

The lead remained 10 with 8:50 left in regulation. A 3-pointer by Hickey brought LSU within 60-56 with 5:43 left. That shot would start a 7-0 run which tied the game at 60-60.

MSU scored the game’s next six points but could not make that lead stand up.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 54 shots from the field (48.1 percent), 3 of 12 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 13 of 27 shots from the foul line (48.1 percent). The Tigers hit 25 of 63 shots from the field (39.7 percent), 4 of 25 shots from 3-point range (16.0 percent) and 15 of 18 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent).

LSU held a 39-37 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 13 assists and 17 turnovers, while the Tigers had 15 assists and 17 turnovers.

MSU placed five players in double figures. Ware paced the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Trivante Bloodman added 12 points, Sword added 11 points, Colin Borchert added 10 points and Johnson added 10 points.

Johnny O’Bryant and Hickey each had 12 points for LSU. Shavon Coleman had 11 points and Charles Carmouche 10 points for the Tigers. O’Bryant had a double-double as he also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.

MSU hits the road for a contest with in-state rival Ole Miss Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. from Tad Smith Coliseum with a regional broadcast available on CSS.

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