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No. 13 Mizzou falters with second-half collapse

By Paul Jones
Associated Press
Missouri guard Mark Smith (13) misses on a dunk attempt as Mississippi State forward Abdul Ado (24) defends during the first half of Tuesday's game. Mizzou led 39-27 at halftime but collapsed in the second half in a 78-63 loss.

STARKVILLE, Miss. – No. 13 Missouri appeared to be cruising to its eighth win.

Then the bottom fell out.

DJ Stewart scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, and Mississippi State overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to roll past the Tigers 78-63 on Tuesday night.

Missouri led 39-27 at halftime on 50% shooting and just one turnover. Then Mississippi State outscored the Tigers 51-24 in the second half on 67.9% percent shooting.

"I thought we had one of our better halves of the season in the first half and we did everything well," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Then in the second half, I couldn't tell you exactly what happened. We were not the same team. We talk about taking what they give you and making the right play.

"I don't know if we got consumed about having a lead. But in the second half we didn't do what gave us the lead in the first half."

Mississippi State trailed by 14 early in the second half before taking the lead with a 15-0 run and then pulling away with a 21-4 burst.

Iverson Molinar added 20 points for the Bulldogs (7-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference). Tolu Smith had 15 points and nine rebounds.

"I wish I could take credit for it, but I thought we had good leadership within the team," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "DJ, Molinar, Abdul (Ado) and Tolu all stepped up and played with fire. Missouri only shot 38% in the second half and we only turned it over three times.

"DJ really got us going when we were down and he was unbelievable. He had 13 points in a row at one stretch in the second half and we kept going to him."

Jeremiah Tilmon led Missouri (7-2, 1-2) with 16 points. Xavier Pinson scored 13 points and Dru Smith had 11.

Stewart was was 10 of 14 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. He hit six consecutive field goals at one point in the second half.

"I kinda zoned out and I was just so focused. I knew we needed a person to try to help us fight back and get the (win)," Stewart said. "So I had to put the team on my shoulders."

Mississippi State trailed 43-29 early in the second half before Stewart's jumper with 13:07 remaining capped the 15-0 run and put the Bulldogs ahead by one. The Tigers pushed back ahead 50-48, but a three-point play from Stewart gave Mississippi State the lead for good and the Bulldogs quickly stretched the advantage to 69-54.

Mississippi State shot 51.9% from the field, including a 67.9% in the second half. The Bulldogs out-rebounded Missouri 37-22 and made 19 of 21 at the free-throw line.

Mississippi State shot 35% from the field in the opening 20 minutes. The Bulldogs had eight first-half turnovers and Missouri outscored the Bulldogs 15-2 in points off turnovers.

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers have lost nine of their last ten meetings with Mississippi State.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs bounced back nicely after a double-overtime loss to Kentucky last Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Tigers are certain to fall in the next AP poll, and the Bulldogs could get a look from voters.

UP NEXT

Missouri: Opens a two-game home stand Saturday against LSU.

Mississippi State: At Vanderbilt on Saturday.