Baylor transfer Lawrence Roberts dominated the inside with 29 points, including 19 in the first half as No. 22 Mississippi State cruised to its 13th straight victory with an 80-62 victory at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.
Arkansas trailed by as many as 20 points with four minutes to play. The Hogs were playing catchup throughout after falling behind 19-5 in the first five minutes. The Hogs cut it to three late in the first half and by 7 at intermission. The Bulldogs went on an early tear in the second half and were never in serious trouble in the final 20 minutes.
Arkansas shot just 40 percent from the field. The Hogs were 6 of 22 on threes for 27 percent. They struggled again at the foul line, shooting 10 of 19 for 53 percent.
MSU nailed 48 percent from the field and 16 of 21 for 76 percent from the line. The Bulldogs controlled the boards throughout. They had a big lead early in that department and finished with a 45-32 advantage after the Hogs closed the gap some in the second half.
Billy Pharis led Arkansas with 18 points, including 15 in the first half when he was deadly from beyond the 3-point line. MSU put a perimeter player on him in the second half and slowed his 3-point shooting. Pharis was 7 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 7 on treys. He played 33 minutes and may have tired in the second half.
Ronnie Brewer added 14 and led the Hogs with 7 rebounds. Kendrick Davis added 10 off the bench. Jonathon "Pookie" Modica had 9 points and 4 rebounds.
Roberts had his ninth double-double of the year, adding 11 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounds. Roberts was 11 of 18 from the field and 7 of 7 from the foul line. He had seven offensive rebounds. He had zero turnovers and zero assists in 29 minutes.
Shane Power added 14 points off the bench for MSU. Center Marcus Campbell added 8 points and 10 rebounds.
"That's an awfully good basketball team," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said of the Bulldogs. "They have a lot of the pieces of the puzzle. Roberts is a man among boys -- at least he was out there against our inexperienced players. We tried to double team him some and he just split our double teams.
"We tried to run with them and we got some advantages, but we tired and couldn't keep up. Their big men run fast and awfully well and they find each other on the break.
"I thought the tale of the game was the rebounding and our inability to take care of the ball. We had 19 turnovers and that is too many.
"I thought Billy Pharis kept us in it in the first half with some outside shots. We have to do some things to recognize when he has the hot hand to put the ball in his hand in some good situations. They put a guard on him in the second half, and when that happens we have to post him up."
Heath said the Hogs are still "experimenting" on how to use football player Matt Jones on the hoops squad. Jones played 15 minutes. He had three assists and three steals and did a solid job against Roberts when both Rashard Sullivan and Vincent Hunter proved ineffective on defense. Jones was 0 for 3 from the field and did not score.
"We are trying to see the things Matt can give to us right now," Heath said. "We need Hunter and Sullivan to be more productive on offense than what they were today. Matt did a good job on Roberts when we put him on him."
The Hogs fell to 0-2 in the SEC, 8-5 overall. They travel to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday to face Alabama, a 70-66 loser at LSU on Saturday.
Miss. State 80, Arkansas 62 (Final)
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