Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

MSU men's basketball drops heart-breaker at A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. – Danuel House hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left in regulation time as No. 21 Texas A&M dealt Mississippi State another heart-breaking loss in Southeastern Conference men’s basketball action. MSU rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit but were beaten at the end by the free throws as Texas A&M completed a season-sweep with a 68-66 win Wednesday night at Reed Arena. (Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

With the win, Texas A&M improved to 21-7 overall and 10-5 in conference play – good for second place in the conference standings with three league games remaining. MSU saw a two-game winning streak snapped in league play, while falling to 12-15 and 5-10.

“It’s very frustrating to come out of here with an L,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said. “We had our chances to beat one of the great teams in the nation on their home floor. If you saw the two games (Texas A&M won 61-60 in early January), you see how far we have come as a team. That is what makes this disappointing.

“We really gave a great effort but we had too many mistakes to allow us to get out of here with a win.”

Craig Sword led the Bulldogs with 24 points, while Quinndary Weatherspoon added 14 points. Gavin Ware and Travis Daniels each had a team-high nine rebounds. Howland also complimented Daniels for his “best defensive performance of the season.”

The lead switched hands several times before Texas A&M built an early 15-11 lead. The Aggies then used a 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 28-19 with 5:22 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs were back within one at 29-28 after consecutive baskets from Sword, Malik Newman and Weatherspoon.

A last-second 3-pointer by Texas A&M pushed the Aggies’ lead to 33-29 at halftime.

In the second half, Texas A&M quickly pushed the lead to 44-35 less than five minutes into the final half.

 Still, the Maroon and White kept battling.

A 3-pointer by Sword chopped the deficit to 48-45 with 10:45 left. A layup by Sword then tied the game at 50-50.

MSU kept on the offensive attack and actually built a 58-54 lead back-to-back 3-pointers by Newman and I.J. Ready.

MSU failed to extend that lead and also could not cash in twice on the offensive end when protecting a 60-59 lead.

“The two empty possessions when we were up one really hurt there at the end,” Howland said. “We had some chances when we were ahead by four as well. I didn’t play the bench as much as usual and we had some guys really fatigued there at the end. It really impacted us getting the shots that we needed when we had a lead.”

For the contest, MSU hit 25 of 52 shots from the field (48.1 percent), 8 of 18 shots from 3-point range (44.4 percent), 8 of 10 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). Texas A&M hit 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9 percent), 7 of 21 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 11 of 20 shots from the foul line (55.0 percent).

MSU held a 37-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 13 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Aggies had 17 assists and 10 turnovers.

Texas A&M, which shot 57.1 percent from the field in the second half, received 16 points from House, 15 points from Tyler Davis and 10 points from D.J. Hogg.

MSU will host South Carolina at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Humphrey Coliseum. The 1996 Final Four team will be recognized at this contest. The game will be shown nationally on the SEC Network.

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