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Victory snatched from MSU: Bulldogs falter down stretch as Tigers take 69-68 victory

February 3, 2013

A disappointed Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray looks down during the second half of Saturday's game with LSU. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Mississippi State head basketball coach Rick Ray was hoping for a better result from his team in the second half than the last time out.
He didn't get it.

LSU's Anthony Hickey hit a floater in the lane with 1.5 seconds left to help the Tigers (12-7, 3-5) edge past the Bulldogs (7-13, 2-6) 69-68 Saturday night inside Humphrey Coliseum.

"This one right here hurts because it's the second ballgame that we've played, that we've had a chance to win here at home," Ray said.

Mississippi State dropped a 55-49 overtime decision to Texas A&M on Wednesday after holding a 12-point halftime lead.

The Bulldogs led the Tigers 40-26 at the half, but yet again were unable to hold onto the lead.

"It's just felt like a fairy tale that we can come out with coach telling us that we worked so hard in practice and then for us to give it all away is just unacceptable," MSU freshman forward Gavin Ware said.

Ray said it was a matter of not finishing.

"We didn't play the way we needed to play in order to have success there at the end," Ray said. "Obviously when you say this, it always sounds bad, and I don't want to take any credit away from LSU, but the fact is we beat ourselves. That is the thing that's most disappointing. Our guys continue to play hard and do some things we want them to do on the defensive end."

MSU's Trivante Bloodman banked a layup off the glass with 7.9 seconds left in the game to give the Bulldogs a 68-67 lead.

Ray decided to call a timeout before the LSU possession. It is something most think he will second guess, but he was confident with his call.

"You always second guess yourself whether you want to call a timeout or not in that situation," Ray said. "If you call a timeout, everybody says 'you are giving LSU a chance to set it up.' When we made that basket, our defensive transition was nowhere to be found. They would have got a shot at the rim, there's no question about that. Our guys were celebrating and trying to find their men. I thought it was best for us to call a timeout."

Hickey took the ball the length of the court and found an opening in the lane. This is the second time in as many games against MSU that Hickey has hit the game-winning shot.

In last year's meeting in Baton Rouge, La., Hickey made the game winner with 1.4 seconds left in overtime to give the Tigers the victory over the Bulldogs.

"It was very exciting and I made the same type of play last year," Hickey said, who scored seven of his 12 points in the last 46 seconds of the game. "I usually settle for a jump shot but I took coach's advice for a change and it turned out good. It was flattened out and if they would've sucked in, I would've made the extra pass but I got big shoulders. If I miss that shot, I'll tell my team we'll get them next time and I was confident I could knock down that shot."

The defensive strategy drawn up in the timeout for MSU got jumbled when it was put into motion.

"Roquez (Johnson) was supposed to be the shadow guy to keep him from getting loose," Ray said. "Trivante is supposed to be in front of him. They kind of got crossed (up) when he crossed the court."

The Tigers pulled within seven when Hickey made a layup with 12:16 left in the game to make it 50-43 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs responded with a 5-0 run to make it 55-43.

LSU's Shavon Coleman knocked down a pair of free throws with 10:19 left to make it 55-45.

MSU had several opportunities at the free-throw line to put the game away down the stretch. The Bulldogs missed 10-of-13 free throws down the stretch.

"It was the factor," Ray said "We missed eight straight down the stretch, so it was the factor."

MSU was 8-of-20 in the second half from the charity stripe and ended the game making 13-of-27 for 48.1 percent. 

"We would've had the game if we make our free throws," Ware said. "That's just one more thing we have to work on in practice. That's unacceptable. We can't throw the game away because we missed free throws."

MSU took control of the first half when it went on an 11-0 run. The Bulldogs were leading 11-8. Ware's layup at the 14:53 mark sparked the run to give State a 22-8 lead.

LSU's Andre Stringer knocked down two free throws with 9:15 left in the opening half to end the run.

Cleveland native and LSU big man Johnny O'Bryant III registered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He fouled out with 1:29 left in the game.

Coleman added 11 points and Charles Carmouche chipped in 10 points.
Ware led the Bulldogs with 14 points and seven rebounds. 

"I think Gavin has just turned the corner as far as continuing to become a better basketball player," Ray said. "He is going to be a guy when it's all said and done in the SEC that is going to be a problem for the other team."

Bloodman scored 12 points, Craig Sword added 11, Johnson and Borchert each added 10 points.

MSU is on the road for the next two games. The Bulldogs travel to Oxford Wednesday to meet in-state rival Ole Miss, then head to Gainesville, Fla. for a rematch with the No. 4 (Associated Press) Florida Saturday.

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