NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A spirited rally fell short for the Mississippi State men's basketball team Wednesday night, as the Bulldogs dropped a 75-72 decision to 18th-ranked Vanderbilt in a Southeastern Conference game played at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs dropped their third straight league road game, falling to 16-6 overall and 4-3 in conference play. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt improved to 17-4 overall, 6-1 in league play and 11-0 at home.
M-State actually trailed 48-34 with 17:38 remaining. However, Barry Stewart led a spirited charge, as the senior guard scored 11 straight points for MSU. The Bulldogs closed within one, at 73-72 on a Dee Bost 3-point basket with 28 seconds left. However, MSU could not get the foul until only six seconds remained.
For the Commodores, John Jenkins hit a pair of three throws. On the other end, Bost could not convert the potential game-tying try from 3-point land, as VU closed out its third straight home win over the Bulldogs.
The teams played a very competitive opening half. The Commodores sprinted to a 5-0 lead before the Bulldogs hit a couple of early 3-point baskets and grabbed a 15-13 advantage. The teams were tied four more times before MSU grabbed its last lead on a Jarvis Varnado layup at 27-26. From that point, the Commodores closed out the opening half with a 12-4 run for a 38-31 halftime advantage.
In the opening three minutes of the final half, the Commodores stretched that run to 22-7 by opening the second half on a 10-3 sprint. Back-to-back 3-point baskets by Brad Tinsley and Jermaine Beal gave the hosts the 48-34 advantage.
A pair of 3-point baskets by Bost fueled a 9-0 run as the Bulldogs scrapped back within, 48-43. The Bulldogs would again fall down by 14 at 69-55 before making its final push. A tip-in by Kodi Augustus started the final run. Stewart followed with eight points in a 20-second stretch. Trailing 73-65, the Bulldogs forced a pair of turnovers and scored seven straight points. However, MSU could never grab one last lead.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24 of 68 shots from the field (35.3 percent), 9 of 34 shots from 3-point range (26.5 percent) and 15 of 22 shots from the foul line (68.2 percent). The Commodores hit 25 of 56 shots from the field (44.6 percent), 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range (54.5 percent) and 19 of 27 shots from the foul line (70.4 percent).
The teams were even at 40-40 in the rebounding department. The Bulldogs had 10 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Commodores had 12 assists and 17 turnovers. Augustus led the Bulldogs' offensive attack with 15 points. Stewart followed with 13 points, while both Varnado and Bost each added 12 points. Varnado posted the double-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
The Commodores also placed four players in double figures, led by Beal's 17 points. A.J. Ogilvy added 16 points, while Jenkins scored 12 points and Tinsley scored 11 points.
The Bulldogs remain on the road Saturday with a showdown against the Florida Gators. Tip off is set for 12:47 p.m. CT from the O'Connell Center. That contest will be televised regionally by The SEC Network.