For the first half, the Mississippi State Bulldogs looked every much the equal of the No. 3 Florida Gators Thursday night at the Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, but in the second half, the Gators (Alligator Army) showed what set them apart on their way to a 62-51 victory.
With Fred Thomas seeing limited first-half action because of foul trouble, the Bulldogs played to within a few points of the Gators for most of the first half before Florida opened up a 27-18 lead with a little over four minutes to play. With the game on the line early, the Bulldogs picked up an unlikely spark in the form of a Tyson Cunningham three-pointer to start a run that saw Mississippi State hold Florida without a field goal for the last six minutes of the first half to cut the Gators' lead to 27-26 at the half.
In the second half, the Bulldogs took an early lead on a Gavin Ware layup, but a Patric Young dunk two minutes into the second half put the Gators ahead for good. The game ended up stretching into a double digit Florida lead before the Bulldogs briefly cut it back to nine late in the game.
Colin Borchert led the Bulldogs (13-7, 3-4) with 15 points while snagging seven rebounds. Craig Sword also scored in double digits with 12 points, and he was joined there by I. J. Ready, who scored ten points. Roquez Johnson led the Bulldogs on the boards with eight rebounds.
Casey Prather led the Gators (18-2, 7-0) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Young picked up 12 points to go with his team leading eight rebounds. The Gators also held their opponent under 60 points for the 12th time this season.
Mississippi State returns to action Saturday at Vanderbilt (Anchor Of Gold, Bulldogs vs Commodores coverage) in a game set for a 4 pm (CT) tip.