STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)Reggie Perry had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 77-70 win over Arkansas on Wednesday.
Perry has now scored 20 points or more in five of his last seven games. He also recorded his SEC-leading 11th double-double of the season and his 20th career double-double. DJ Stewart Jr. added 14 points for Mississippi State (12-6 overall, 3-3) while Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt Jr. each had 20 points to lead Arkansas (14-4, 3-3).
”That was a great win over a really good team,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. ”It is such a difficult matchup with Arkansas, and their guards play so unselfish. The key for us was taking care of the basketball, only nine turnovers, against a team that forces 17.6 turnovers a game. That was huge for us and we did a good job knocking down our foul shots.”
Perry scored the first five points of the second half as the Bulldogs extended the lead to 35-28. A three-point play by Weatherspoon gave the Bulldogs a 44-36 advantage with 12:41 to go. Mississippi State led by as many as 11 in the second half and never allowed Arkansas to get the deficit under five points.
Mississippi State shot 38.6% from the field, including 50% in the second half. The Bulldogs made 6 of 19 from 3 point territory and made 27 of 31 at the free throw line. Arkansas shot 47.6% from the floor and made just 4 of 20 beyond the arc. The Razorbacks did not make their first free throw until the 2:35 mark of the second half and finished 6 of 11 at the line.
”The whole game was free throws,” said Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman. ”We have to convert the front end of 1-and-1s, and that’s back-to-back games where that was a problem. I thought we played solid defense the whole game.
Musselman added: ”We know we’re not a good rebounding team, but we were close enough to win the game. But Mississippi State is a really talented team that is really long. We needed a flawless game to beat a team like that and we didn’t get that.”
Mississippi State held a 41-31 advantage on the boards but were outscored 46-24 in the paint. Arkansas had seven turnovers while the Bulldogs turned it over nine times.
”We just realized we were not communicating enough and not playing hard enough on defense,” said Perry, who was 14 of 15 at the free throw line. ”We needed to help out more, and once we did that we got stops and were patient on offense. We just weren’t helping each other out on defense and the help side is a big key to our defense. So we just got back to staying in front of the ball.”
Behind four early points by Perry, Mississippi State jumped out to a 9-3 advantage to open the game. But Arkansas later responded with a 9-0 run and held a 16-11 lead following a Jeantal Cylla 3-pointer.
Both teams traded turns with the lead until Mississippi State used a 9-0 run to grab at 28-22 lead late in the opening half. Mississippi State held a 30-26 halftime lead as the first half featured seven lead changes and three ties.
Mississippi State shot just 30.3% in the first half and made 4 of 11 beyond the arc. The Bulldogs were 6 of 7 at the charity stripe in the opening half, led by Perry’s 6 of 6 showing at the line. Arkansas shot 42.9% from the field in the first half and made just 2 of 10 beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs held a 23-17 rebounding advantage in the first half but were outscored 18-6 in the paint.
Arkansas: After a 3-1 start inside the SEC, Arkansas has now dropped back-to-back road games at Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Mississippi State: After an 0-3 start inside SEC play, the Bulldogs evened their conference record with a 3-0 home stand. Now the Bulldogs will play three of the next four games on the road.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks host TCU on Saturday as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs hit the road on Saturday and face Oklahoma in Oklahoma City as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
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