FINAL: LSU 69, MSU 68

Recapping MSU’s 69-68 loss to LSU at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.

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• The buzz: MSU blew a 17-point halftime lead, and LSU point guard Anthony Hickey finished off the rally by scoring his team’s final seven points, including a coast-to-coast layup with 1.5 seconds left. It was the second straight game MSU (7-13, 2-6) saw a double-digit halftime lead evaporate, and free throws were a big culprit – State hit just 8 of 20 after halftime.

• Turning point: MSU managed to hold LSU (12-7, 3-5) at arm’s length for much of the second half, but the Tigers used a 13-1 run to tie the game at 60-60 with 3:13 to go. State regained the lead, pushing it to 66-60 with 1:42 to go. Then Hickey went off. MSU’s last lead was 68-67 after a Trivante Bloodman layup with 7.9 seconds.

• MVP: Center Gavin Ware had another solid game, recording 14 points and seven rebounds, and he did a good job much of the game on LSU big man Johnny O’Bryant.

• LSU leaders: O’Bryant 12 points (4-9 FGs, 4-4 FTs), 12 rebounds; Hickey 12 points (5-14 FGs, 2-9 3FGs, 0-1 FTs), 4 assists; Shavon Coleman 11 points (3-9 FGs, 0-1 3FGs, 5-7 FTs), 7 rebounds; Charles Carmouche 10 points (4-8 FGs, 0-4 3FGs, 2-2 FGs), 7 rebounds.

• MSU leaders: Ware 14 points (6-8 FGs, 2-3 FTs), 7 rebounds; Bloodman 12 points (3-6 FGs, 0-1 3FGs, 6-6 FTs), 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Craig Sword 11 points (5-9 FGs, 0-1 3FGs, 1-6 FTs); Colin Borchert 10 points (4-9 FGs, 2-3 3FGs, 0-3 FTs), 6 rebounds; Roquez Johnson 10 points (4-4 FGs, 2-6 FTs), 6 rebounds.

• Key stats: MSU made just 8 of 20 free throws in the second half and missed 10 of its final 13 attempts. … MSU shot 48.1 percent from the field, but just 38.5 percent after halftime, and made 3 of 12 from 3-point range. … LSU made 39.7 percent overall, 53.3 percent in the second half. … LSU made 4 of 25 from 3-point range and 15 of 18 from the free throw line. … MSU had 17 fast-break points, LSU 12.

• Highlight reel: Hickey’s coast-to-coast drive, which began with 7.9 seconds left, saw him nearly lose the ball around halfcourt, but he got around Bloodman to the right and hit the floater.

• Quotable: “This one right here hurts because this is the second ballgame that we’ve played that we had a chance to win here at home that we just didn’t finish ballgames and play the way we needed to play in order to have success there at the end.” – MSU coach Rick Ray

• Bottom line: MSU made several mistakes in the closing two minutes, but the missed free throws were the most costly. This is a young team still figuring out how to finish games, and this sixth consecutive loss will test its resiliency with two big road games looming.

• Up next: MSU visits Ole Miss on Wednesday (8 p.m., CSS), then is at Florida on Saturday (4 p.m., FSS).

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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