STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State men’s basketball team opened up Southeastern Conference play against No. 8 Auburn on Saturday, falling 80-68 at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs fall to 9-4 (0-1 SEC), while the Tigers improve to 13-0 (1-0 SEC).
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 13-6 lead with 14:25 to play in the first half. They pushed their lead to 18-9 with 7:24 to go, but the Tigers used a 9-0 run to tie things up at 18-18 with 3:48 left. An 8-0 run by Auburn then made it 29-22 before a jumper by Nick Weatherspoon made it a 29-24 game at the halftime break.
Auburn built a nine-point lead to start the second half by scoring four points seconds apart. After a fast-break layup, Auburn stole the inbounds pass and scored instantly to put Auburn up 33-24. A 3-pointer then gave the Tigers a 10-point lead at 36-26 with 17:28 to play.
The Bulldogs managed to claw to within two points at 41-39 with 12:28 to play, but the Tigers scored the next eight points on a pair of 3-pointers and a transition putback to give Auburn a double-digit lead at 56-46 with 7:58 left.
MSU cut the deficit to six points on a couple possessions before there were under five minutes remaining, but the Tigers grew their lead to as many as 15 points.
State dropped the contest 80-68.
Sophomore forward Reggie Perry and sophomore guard Robert Woodard II both came away with double-doubles. Perry finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Woodard II finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Weatherspoon chipped in with 18 points. Abdul Ado filled the box score and nearly turned in a double-double in rebounds and blocks, as he recorded career-high nine blocks and 11 rebounds. He also recorded six points and two steals.
As a team, the Bulldogs shot 23-of-68 (33.8%) from the field, 3-of-13 shots from 3-point range (23.1%) and 19-of-23 from the charity stripe (82.6%). The 33.8 percent shooting is a season low for the Bulldogs.
The Tigers shot 27-of-65 from the field(41.5%), including 5-of-22 on 3-pointers (22.7%) and 21-of-30 at the charity stripe (70.0%).
MSU held a 46-44 rebounding advantage.
The Bulldogs will now travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to play the Crimson Tide at Coleman Coliseum. Tip time is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised by SEC Network.