Tolu Smith scored 17 points and Mississippi State cooled off one of the hottest teams in the SEC with a 69-62 victory over No. 25 Texas A&M in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday.
Shakeel Moore added 14 points as the Bulldogs (19-10, 7-9 SEC) strengthened their NCAA Tournament hopes while snapping the Aggies’ six-game winning streak. Cameron Matthews finished with 11 points.
Mississippi State’s relentless defensive effort in the second half was key as they forced the Aggies (21-8, 13-3) to go nearly 13 minutes without a field goal.
Texas A&M, aiming for 14 conference wins for only the second time in its SEC history, lost despite a 21-point effort from Wayde Taylor IV.
Andersson Garcia scored 11 before fouling out. Henry Coleman III tallied 11 points and Dexter Dennis added nine to go with seven rebounds.
Dennis gave the Aggies their first lead of the day at 31-30 on a 3-pointer to start the second half.
The Bulldogs trailed by as nine early in the second half but remained poised and took the lead for good at 51-49 with 6:02 left on a couple of free throws by Smith.
Moments later, Shawn Jones Jr. turned a steal into a thunderous dunk that put the Bulldogs up 53-49 with 5:49 remaining.
Mississippi State scored the first five points and led 8-3 after Moore buried an open 3-pointer with 17:14 to go.
Moore scored nine points in the first half, including two off a jumper as the shot clock expired to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-10 with 14:56 left.
Eric Reed Jr. drilled a 3-pointer that extended the lead to 17-10 as Mississippi State connected eight of its first 10 shots from the floor.
Taylor kept the Aggies in the game, hitting his first three shots from beyond the arc, the third slicing their deficit to 24-21 with 8:13 to play.
The Bulldogs went more than four minutes without hitting a field goal late in the opening half. Smith ended the cold spell with a tip-in at the 5:37 mark for a 27-21 lead.
Garcia stepped up late for the Aggies, hitting a 3-pointer up top that cut the Mississippi State lead to 27-26 and then scoring off a putback that pulled the Aggies within 30-28 with 3:40 left.
Neither team scored the remainder of the half.
–Field Level Media