Mississippi State Basketball: State Holds Off Vanderbilt, 84-81
A late run in the final minute by Vandy wasn’t enough as Mississippi State held on to defeat the Commodores, 84-81, in Nashville. State’s hard-fought win improves its record to 8-4, 3-1 in the SEC. Vanderbilt drops to 4-5, 0-3 in the SEC.
Both teams traded baskets in the early stages, as the game was tied at 8 at the under-16 media timeout. A Scotty Pippen Jr. three-pointer with 10:51 to go gave Vanderbilt its largest lead of the half at 22-15. Mississippi State answered with an 8-0 run and took the lead after back-to-back threes from Jalen Johnson made it 23-22.
The Bulldogs extended their lead out to 36-30 after an Iverson Molinar basket with 1:54 left. However, another Trey Thomas three and a layup from Quentin Millora-Brown trimmed Mississippi State’s lead to just one at halftime.
As Vandy continued shooting from the outside, State began to attack the rim in the second half. The Bulldogs stretched their lead out to 7 after a Tolu Smith free throw gave MSU a 49-42 lead. Vanderbilt again used the three-ball to draw closer as Dylan Disu and DJ Harvey connected to cut the Bulldog lead to 51-48.
After Iverson Molinar completed a three-point play, Quinten Post hit a top of the key three to give MSU a 57-48 advantage. Mississippi State was able to stretch its lead out to as many as 11 at 61-50. Vanderbilt responded with a 10-0 run to get back in it with 8 minutes to play.
A pair of Molinar free throws again had MSU up double-digits again at 71-61. A quick 6-0 run by Vandy cut the lead to 4 at the under-4 media timeout. Both teams traded buckets until Vandy began to foul. After Molinar made two free throws, Trey Thomas hit a corner three to cut MSU’s lead to 81-78.
DJ Stewart split a pair of free throws, and Vandy again hit a big three to stay in the game. With 6 seconds to go, Jalen Johnson hit 1 of 2 from the line to give State an 83-81 lead. Then, Cameron Matthews came up with the play of the day as he stole the ball away from Pippen Jr., forcing Vandy to foul with 3 seconds left.
Matthews was fouled and hit his first free throw, but his second missed. A full-court heave by Disu came up well short, giving State the 84-81 win.
Mississippi State shot an impressive 60.8% from the floor, including 57% from three. Molinar tied his career-high with 24 points along with 8 rebounds. Tolu Smith finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Stewart and Jalen Johnson also finished in double figures with 16 and 10, respectively. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein had high praise for Molinar after his performance on Saturday.
Vanderbilt made 15-33 from three, which kept them in the game. Pippen Jr. led Vandy with 18 points and 12 assists. Disu finished with 16 points, and DJ Harvey had 13. Trey Thomas shot well off the bench, adding 17 points on 5-9 from three.
Mississippi State will be back in action at the Humphrey Coliseum on Wednesday night as Texas A&M comes to Starkville. Tip-off is at 8 PM CT and will be on the SEC Network.
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