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Mississippi State escapes Southern Miss after furious rally, 70-64

Dec. 23, 2017

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JACKSON, Miss. -- Southern Miss took the lead after a nine-point, second-half deficit, but Mississippi State regained the lead with five minutes to go and held on for a 70-64 win on Saturday night inside the Mississippi Coliseum.

Cortez Edwards led the way with 22 points, including 19 in the second half on 8-of-11 shooting. Kevin Holland also had three triples on the night, continuing his stellar pace on the season.

Southern Miss (7-6) trailed 45-36 with 13:46 to play, but Tim Rowe's jumper with 10:56 remaining capped off a 9-0 run that gave Southern Miss its first lead since the opening minutes. Five lead changes, including a 54-50 advantage, transpired before back-to-back three-pointers put Mississippi State ahead for good at 56-54 with 4:52 remaining.

"This team can be a good basketball team," head coach Doc Sadler said. "But I'm not gonna be satisfied with playing people close. That's not who I am and that's not who I want my team to be. We were down six and had an 11-point turnaround in the second half, and just let it get away. Give them credit, they made some plays. I'm disappointed. I felt like we should have won this basketball game."

The Golden Eagles had held Mississippi State without a field goal for 5:15 until a jumper tied the game at 10 with 11:34 left in the half. Southern Miss also got within 27-24 after two Eddie Davis III free-throws and a short fadeaway by Cortez Edwards, but MSU responded with seven consecutive points for a 34-24 lead in the final 1:30 of the half.

It eventually became a 36-27 lead at halftime.

"I thought we were more aggressive in the second half," Sadler said. "That's the message I'm trying to get to my team. You can't get to the free-throw line just 12 times and expect to win. We shot 26 three-pointers. That's not who we are. If it sounds like I'm disappointed, it's because I am. This basketball team had a good chance to win tonight, and I wish we had come away with a few more plays."

The Bulldogs (11-1) made five of their six free-throws in the final 41 seconds to keep the Golden Eagles at bay.

Southern Miss enters Conference USA play Thursday at Marshall before playing at WKU on Saturday afternoon.

NOTABLE
-Cortez Edwards tied a season-high with four steals.
-Five of Edwards' seven-career 20-point games have come this season.
-Tyree Griffin had five assists, the 19th time he's done that in his career.
-The 44 field goal attempts by Mississippi State were a season-low for Southern Miss.
-This was the second installment of a four-game series between the teams in Jackson.

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