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Bulldogs improve to 3-0 with win against Utah State

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) — Behind 15-point efforts from both Fred Thomas and Roquez Johnson, Mississippi State rallied in the second half to beat Utah State 71-63 at Humphrey Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

In a game that featured 18 lead changes and 9 ties, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 38-34 at the break.

The Aggies (3-1) quickly extended the lead to 41-34 on a 3-pointer by Chris Smith, but the Bulldogs slowly chipped away and went up 42-41 on a 3-pointer by Thomas.

For the next 12 minutes, the lead continued to change hands. But with 5:38 to play, a dunk by Gavin Ware gave the Bulldogs a 59-58 advantage, one it never relinquished. Ware rounded out the double-digit scoring for MSU with 12 points to go along with his 8 rebounds.

“It was good for our team to beat a quality team like Utah State,” said MSU coach Rick Ray, whose 3-0 squad returns to action at 7 p.m. on Monday against Clayton State in a game televised by the SEC Network+. “I told the guys our goal before the season started that to be in a serious conversation for post-season basketball, you have to beat teams like Utah State in order to have this. You have to build a resume.”

MSU, which dominated the boards 38-21, was clutch down the stretch at the free throw line. In the final three minutes, the Bulldogs were 8 of 8 at the charity stripe, thanks to a 6-for-6 effort by Trivante Bloodman.

“I think we grew up today,” Johnson said. “We fought through adversity and even saw the young guys step up today. It was a great game for us.”

Mississippi State made 24 of its 52 shots, including a 4-of-15 mark beyond the arc. The Aggies were 20 of 47 shooting, and after making 7 of their 14 attempts from long range in the first half, they were just 3 of 13 in the final 20 minutes.

Chris Smith and Darius Perkins paced Utah State with 14 points each, while Jalen Moore added 13.





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