Despite being without a starter and a key reserve due to injury, the Tigers got enough scoring from multiple sources to beat a Bulldog team that had just registered a 14-point upset over No. 5 Alabama. Freshman guard Antonio Hudson, one of four Tigers in double figures, logged a career-high 23 points to help LSU stay above the .500 mark for the season.
"For anybody who thinks this team is down and out, they need to think again," said LSU coach John Brady. "That's not the case."
LSU used a 17-0 run in the second half, capped by a 15-foot jumper from Brad Bridgewater, to move ahead of Mississippi State, 54-52, with 6:23 to play. The Tigers were able to build a three-point lead but MSU crept back into contention with free throws and hard-earned baskets on the inside. The last lead for the Bulldogs came with 3:33 to go on a leaning baseline jumper from Mario Austin that made the score 59-58.
Charlie Thompson put the Tigers back ahead 61-59 with a three-pointer on the next trip down the floor, but State drew even by hitting three free throws to LSU's one over the next two minutes. Austin provided two foul shots with 1:09 to play to knot the game at 62-62, and the two teams had to go past regulation when each failed to hit a go-ahead basket the rest of the way.
In overtime, Jason Wilson put LSU ahead 66-63 with his tip-in on a missed three-pointer from Hudson with 1:14 to go. Mississippi State drew to within a point on Marckell Patterson's running shot in the lane with 45 seconds remaining and called the team's last timeout to set up its defensive strategy.
After allowing the Tigers to run some time off the clock, the Bulldogs went with the percentages and fouled Wilson to put him on the line shooting 1-and-1 with 30 seconds to go. The plan worked when Wilson missed the front end and the Bulldogs rebounded for a chance to take the last shot.
State got the ball underneath to Austin but Jermaine Williams deflected the ball going toward the basket. Michael Gholar recovered the ball for MSU falling out of bounds and called for a timeout before he fell under the goal support. Since the Bulldogs were out of timeouts, they were assessed a technical foul with 9.2 left on the game clock.
With a chance to put LSU ahead by three, Torris Bright missed both technical free throws. Mississippi State retained possession of the ball as dictated by the technical foul's interruption of play rule.
Guarding against a three-point basket, LSU defended the perimeter on the inbounds pass and Ronald Dupree came away with Derrick Zimmerman's feed. Patterson fouled Dupree immediately, putting the Biloxi, Miss., junior on the line for a 1-and-1 chance with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Dupree made both of his free throws and LSU then guarded against a game-tying three-pointer when Mississippi State came down court. Zimmerman had two hands in his face when he launched a shot from behind the arc with just over a second to play. The ball glanced off the left side of the rim and into the Tigers' possession.
"I think you have to compliment our team and our players for what they did tonight and what it showed," said Brady. "We beat an NCAA Tournament team."
LSU improved to 13-11 overall and 3-8 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State dropped to18-7, 5-6 in league games. Following a loss to Weber State at the Big Island Invitational in Hilo, Hawaii, the Tigers improved to 1-1 in overtime games this season and 3-3 in post-regulation games in the Brady era.
Hudson shot 9-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-7 behind the arc, and brought down seven rebounds. Dupree led the Tigers with nine rebounds and had 13 points. Williams and Bright each scored ten, and Bridgewater scored seven before fouling out with 1:44 left in regulation.
Wilson and Bridgewater combined to play 43 minutes in the absence of Thomas Davis, who sat out the game with strained knee ligaments. The Tigers were also without Collis Temple III for the fifth game this season due to his problematic lower right leg.
The Tigers offset a 36-percent shooting performance in the first half (9-of-25) with 55 percent (16-29) in the second half.
Austin and Timmy Bowers each had 17 points in the losing effort for Mississippi State. It was Bowers who had a chance to win the game in regulation, but his forced shot with three seconds to play rolled off the rim and into LSU's possession.
Patterson added 16 points for the Bulldogs, and Zimmerman had ten. Gholar was the top rebounder for MSU with nine boards.