State moves on at SEC Tournament with win over LSU

ST. LOUIS – Playing for its NCAA tournament lives, Mississippi State delivered in the clutch behind the play of Lamar Peters.

The Bulldogs (22-10) gained revenge for a regular-season loss to LSU (17-14), while beating the Tigers in this event for a second-straight season and fifth time in a row.

MSU will face No. 12 Tennessee (23-7) at 6 p.m. CT Friday in the quarterfinal round on the SEC Network.

In the first half, MSU shot 64 percent from the field, including 75 percent from 3-point range, to build a 45-29 halftime lead. The Bulldogs then had to hold on in the closing minutes as the Tigers battled back to make it a one-possession game.

MSU beat the full-court pressure and got a dunk from Nick Weatherspoon with 1.5 seconds left to seal the victory.

“I’m happy for our kids to be able to get a hard-earned win in this tournament,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “We came out with some great energy and had some really good ball movement in the first half. In the second half, we made a couple of mistakes there and that let them get back in the game.

“Bottom line in a tournament is winning and advancing. We were able to do just that. Now, we get to prepare for a Tennessee team, playing as well as anybody in the nation right now.”

In addition to Peters’ season-high 24 points, Nick and Quinndary Weatherspoon added 15 points apiece. Aric Holman collected a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

A 3-pointer by Peters got the Bulldogs headed in the right direction. Another trey from Peters then started a 7-0 run as the Bulldogs built an 18-8 advantage. A 9-0 run, which featured 3-pointers from Holman and Tyson Carter, ran the lead to 42-23 with 2:21 left in the first half.

MSU hit nine 3-pointers in the first half and led 45-29 at halftime.

The Bulldogs would still hold a 14-point lead at 56-42 with 13:29 left in the contest.

LSU pulled within two at 68-66 with 5:52 left. Peters hit a 3-pointer and Nick Weatherspoon scored off a steal by Peters to run the lead back to seven points.

MSU led 78-71 with 34 seconds remaining, but back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Tigers one last chance.

LSU received 28 points from Tramont Waters. Daryl Edwards added 11 points.