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MSU Men's Basketball Falls To TCU In SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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Mississippi State sophomore Craig Sword tied his season high in points for a second-consecutive game with 24 points Thursday night.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A late rally fell short as the Mississippi State men’s basketball team dropped a 71-61 decision to TCU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU (5-2) only managed two two-point leads early in the game. TCU (5-3) took advantage of the early offensive struggles to build a comfortable lead.

“Everybody is wrapped up in our offense, coaching staff, players, fans,” MSU head coach Rick Ray said. “Our problem is we refused to be sound on the defensive end. When you are solid and compact on every possession, you put yourself in the right defensive position and you don’t foul.”

TCU built a 19-8 lead, as MSU did not reach double digits scoring until 11 minutes had been played. In the opening half, MSU shot 36 percent from the field and trailed 34-22 at the intermission.

“We need to get (Craig Sword) more help on the offensive end,” MSU freshman point guard IJ Ready said. “If we are going to shoot 18 3-pointers in the game, but we have to make more of them. We have to get to the gym and make shots.”

TCU stretched the lead to 18 at 45-27 with less than five minutes gone by in the second half. MSU turned up the intensity on both ends of the floor and made a run.

Still down 18 at 52-34, the Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 10 points at 55-45 on a three-pointer by Ready. A jumper by Roquez Johnson capped a 16-4 run as MSU closed within 59-56 with 2:28 left in the contest.

“We had a lot of momentum,” Sword said. “We played hard but we should have played that way from the beginning of the game. We didn’t have enough energy. We just have to play hard from the jump. We didn’t approach the game the right way.

“We just have to go back to practice and work harder and find a way to start games better.”

The Bulldogs turned the ball over the next possession and the Horned Frogs hit 10 of 12 free throws to seal the victory.

“It’s nice that we came back and all but we did that out of urgency,” Ray said. “We played the way we needed to at the end of the game because we were desperate. We need to play that way throughout the game.”

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24 of 56 shots from the field (42.9 percent), 3 of 18 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 10 of 20 shots from the foul line (50.0 percent). The Horned Frogs hit 20 of 44 shots from the field (45.5 percent), 6 of 14 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 25 of 31 shots from the foul line (80.6 percent).

TCU held a 34-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 15 turnovers, while the Horned Frogs had seven assists and 17 turnovers.

Sword paced MSU with 24 points on a 9-of-12 night from the field. Ready, Roquez Johnson and Gavin Ware each added nine points. Ware and Johnson each had a team-high six rebounds.

TCU received 20 points from Charles Hill, 16 points from Kyan Anderson and 11 points from Michael Williams. Karviar Shepherd had a game-high 16 rebounds, including 14 on the defensive end.

MSU will take a final exams break before returning to action against Southeastern Louisiana. The Bulldogs and Lions meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.

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