Jordan Wright recorded 19 points and six rebounds to help Vanderbilt hold on for a 77-72 wire-to-wire victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night in Southeastern Conference play at Nashville, Tenn.
Tyrin Lawrence added 16 points and Ezra Manjon had 15 points and seven assists for the Commodores (18-13, 11-7 SEC). Myles Stute scored 12 points on four 3-pointers as Vanderbilt won for the eighth time in its last nine games.
Tolu Smith matched a career high with 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season for the Bulldogs. D.J. Jeffries contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Shakeel Moore had 13 points.
Cameron Matthews also grabbed 11 rebounds as Mississippi State owned a 45-24 rebounding advantage with Vanderbilt missing standout big man Liam Robbins. The senior broke his right leg during Wednesday’s upset win over No. 23 Kentucky.
The Commodores will be the sixth seed in next week’s SEC tournament. Mississippi State will be the ninth seed.
The Bulldogs made a late charge and crept within 73-70 on a layup by Jeffries with 15.5 seconds remaining. Manjon split two free throws with 13.7 seconds left to make it a four-point margin, before Jeffries drove for a hoop with eight seconds to go.
Manjon again split two free throws with 7.2 seconds left. Mississippi State had a chance to tie, but Moore’s 3-pointer was off the mark with just over two seconds left. Wright made two free throws with one second left to seal it.
The Commodores shot 49.1 percent from the field, including 12 of 25 from 3-point range.
Mississippi State connected on 45.9 percent of its attempts but was just 4 of 17 from behind the arc.
Vanderbilt led by 15 in the first minute of the second half before Smith embarked on a personal 9-0 run to pull the Bulldogs within 42-36 with 16:51 left.
Later in the half, Smith’s three-point play got the Bulldogs back within 56-53 with 9:09 left. But Wright made two free throws and Stute buried two more treys to give the Commodores an 11-point advantage with 5:58 remaining.
A three-point play by Manjon gave Vanderbilt a 67-55 lead with 5:18 left prior to the Bulldogs’ late charge.
Wright scored 13 points and Lawrence added 12 in the first half as the Commodores held a 37-27 lead. Jeffries had 11 in the half for Mississippi State.
–Field Level Media