Miss State defense sparks rally past Kansas State, 67-61

After trailing by as many as 12 points during the first half and by as much as seven points midway through the second half, Mississippi State finished both halves with authority to grind out a 67-61 victory over defending Big 12 regular season co-champion Kansas State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic on Saturday at Prudential Center.

The Bulldogs (7-2) used a 17-5 run during a 6:12 span to close the first half and ripped off 12 of the last 15 points over the last 3:36 of the contest.  

Mississippi State has won back-to-back games over Big 12 opponents going back to the 2017-18 season and emerged with a victory for the first time in four meetings with Kansas State (6-3).

The Bulldogs have won five of its six decisions when tied at halftime under Ben Howland and have picked up consecutive victories during back-to-back seasons at the Never Forget Tribute Classic. MSU defeated Clemson, 82-71, in last year’s event.  

State put forth a balanced scoring attack as four players tucked away double figures. Tyson Carter provided a team-leading 14 points ignited by a 7-for-10 clip from the charity stripe. He dished out a game-high four assists to go along with three rebounds and two steals. The 14 points enabled Carter to get within two points of passing Larry Fry (1973-74-75) for 34th place on MSU’s all-time list.

Abdul Ado nearly compiled his first double-double since his freshman campaign. He pumped up nine of his season-high 13 points in the second half. The Nigeria native was an efficient 6-of-7 shooting and matched his season’s best with nine rebounds. Ado also registered three blocks to bring his career total to 139, four shy of tying Charles Rhodes (2005-06-07-08) for seventh place in program history.  

Robert Woodard II corralled his second career double-double as he amassed 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. He also locked down K-State’s leading scorer, Xavier Snead who entered the game averaging 15.1 points per game, to a season-low eight points. Snead misfired on nine of his 11 shot attempts.

Making his first career start, D.J. Stewart Jr. gave the Bulldogs a boost on both ends with 10 points and two steals. The redshirt freshman has reached 10-plus points in five games this season.

Iverson Molinar and Reggie Perry turned in eight and seven points, respectively. Perry registered six boards coupled with a career-high four blocks. He had his run of eight straight games to start the season in double figures come to a close.  

KeyShawn Feazell rounded out the scoring for State with a three-pointer and grabbed two rebounds.

For the contest, MSU hit 23-of-58 shots from the field (39.7 percent), 4-of-15 shots from 3-point range (26.7 percent) and 17-of-25 shots from the foul line (68.0 percent).

State came away with 36 rebounds, eight assists and 13 turnovers, compared to K-State’s 36 rebounds, seven assists and 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs held a healthy 28-14 advantage in paint points and hauled down 14 offensive rebounds en route to 15 of the game’s 21 points off second-chance opportunities.

Kansas State was 14-of-43 overall (32.6 percent), 6-for-18 on three-pointers (33.3 percent) and 27-for-36 at the charity stripe (75.0 percent). The Wildcats received 20 points from Cartier Diarra and 14 points from Mike McGuirl.