LSU drops SEC finale at Mississippi State

By Tiger Rag News Services 

STARKVILLE, MISS. – Despite putting all five starters in double figures, the LSU Tigers were unable to get enough stops on Mississippi State inside as the Bulldogs made it early and late season wins over the Tigers with an 88-76 win Saturday night at the Humphrey Coliseum.

The Tigers finish the regular season at 10-20 and 2-16 in the league, tying for 13th place. The Tigers and Mississippi State will meet again in the first game of the opening night double header of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville beginning at 6 p.m. CT. Auburn and Missouri will meet in the second game of the evening. The LSU game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network and televised on the SEC Network.

LSU surrendered 52 points in the paint against the Bulldogs and again was hit in the points off turnovers (19-10) and second chance points (20-9) categories.

Skylar Mays and Antonio Blakeney each had 15 points to lead LSU, while Brandon Sampson had 14 points. Duop Reath had his second double double against the Bulldogs with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Aaron Epps added 10 for LSU. Jalyn Patterson dished out six assists in 22 minutes.

Quinndary Weatherspoon had 18 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Aric Holman and Xavian Stapleton had 14 each. But it was senior IJ Ready who had seven points and 13 assists in his final home game as a Bulldog. Many of those assists would lead to open baskets underneath the goal for State.

With the win, State finished at 15-15 and 6-12 in the league, ending a seven-game losing streak.

The game was basically decided in the first half of play as Mississippi State was able to outscore LSU, 48-30, with the Bulldogs making 19-of-33 shots (57.6%) with five treys, while LSU was 10-of-27 (37%) with two treys.

The Tigers were able to get out to a 5-2 advantage in the first 90 seconds on a three-pointer by Mays and a jumper field goal by Epps. But then Mississippi State scored the next 10 points while LSU was missing five shots and turning the ball over twice to give the Bulldogs a 12-5 advantage.

The teams traded buckets over the next several minutes before the Bulldogs got a three-pointer at the 10:53 mark that gave State its first double digit lead, 21-11.

LSU would bring the lead back down to six after a dunk by Reath, a steal by Patterson and a Blakeney layup that made the game 23-17 with 8:23 to go in the half, but five straight pushed the State lead back up to 11 and later 14 on a Stapleton three at 33-19 with 6:41 to go in the first 20 minutes.

LSU would get the lead back down to eight at the 4:20 mark and LSU had three one and one opportunities late in the half that they could only get half of the attempts made allowing State to finish the last four minutes on a 15-5 run that brought the margin to 18 at the half.

In the second half, both teams shot over 50 percent and LSU outscored Mississippi State, 46-40.

The Tigers were able to cut the game to 10 on an 8-0 run that took the game from 75-57 to 75-65. Epps hit a jumper to start the run, Sampson had a three and Mays and old-fashioned three-point play that capped the run at the 5:49 mark.

But State was able to move the game back to 17 points and then held off an LSU press that had some effect in the last several minutes for the final margin.

The team is expected to leave Tuesday for Nashville and its practice time in the Arena prior to Wednesday’s game.

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Cody Worsham

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