For the second time in two years Mississippi State escaped Baton Rouge with a one-point victory.
After a back and forth battle that featured 15 ties and 12 lead changes, the Bulldogs (12-10, 4-4) scored a 58-57 win in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday.
The Tigers led the game 57-56 with 2:26 to play in the ballgame but were unable to get a shot off across the final 2:09, including the final possession as Dee Bost turned away Andre Stringer with LSU inside seven seconds and down by a point.
“The last possession I was leary of going with the on-ball (screen),” said LSU coach Trent Johnson. “I thought our best option was going to be to get the ball in Andre’s (Stringer) hands and attack because we were in the bonus.”
The plan was similar to the one implemented against Wichita State in Shreveport on Dec. 18.
The results were exactly the same. The Tigers turned the ball over.
“I didn’t feel any pressure,” said Stringer, a freshman guard out of Mississippi. “I just tried to get around Dee Bost the best I could. The call could have gone either way, but I didn’t get past him and time ran out.”
Stringer lead the Tigers with 15 points and four assists.
“I thought Andre did a great job of shooting the ball with confidence,” Johnson said.
Stringer’s two biggest buckets came on consecutive possessions late in the second half. His pair of 3-pointers within 34 seconds ignited the home crowd and gave the Tigers a three point lead with 3:23 to play.
“I just wanted to be aggressive coming off (of screens),” Stringer said. “I got a little space on those possessions, and I knocked down some threes.”
Ralston Turner, his fellow freshman in the backcourt, struggled mightily all afternoon in what was his third game back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for the better part of a month. He finished the game just 3-of-14 from the floor and 1-of-7 from 3-point land.
“He’s been struggling,” Johnson said. “Obviously when you miss the amount of time that he has it’s going to happen.”
Mississippi State junior Dee Bost shared Turner’s struggles from the field. The preseason All-SEC guard finished 2-of-11 from the field and turned the ball over five times.
When it was time for a play to be made, however, the veteran made them, making the tying and go-ahead free throws with 1:59 on the clock and stripping the freshman Stringer in the closing seconds.
Renardo Sidney, the Bulldogs freshman forward, recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“Sidney’s a very skilled player,” said junior forward Garrett Green. “He’s a big body in the post. He’s strong and physical inside. He’s got very good footwork around the basket and he scored really well tonight.”
The loss, LSU’s sixth straight, dropped the Tigers to 10-13 and 2-6 in the SEC.
After a two game homestand, the Tigers will hit the road this week for games at Ole Miss and Arkansas. LSU split their home games with the Razorbacks and Rebels.