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Mississippi State men’s basketball cruises to 81-65 win over Central Arkansas

Bulldogs improve to 4-3.

NCAA Basketball: Holiday Hoopsgiving-Mississippi State at Dayton Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — For the first 20 minutes, Central Arkansas gave Mississippi State everything it could handle, but the Bulldogs outscored the Bears 42-30 in the second half on their way to earning an 81-65 victory Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU (4-3) shot 29-for-61 (47.5%) and was led by a quartet of double-digit scorers. Redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. led the way with 17 points. He also recorded six rebounds and a team-high five assists.

Redshirt senior forward Jalen Johnson made all six of his free throws on his way to scoring 15 points, while sophomore guard Iverson Molinar and redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith added 14 and 10 points, respectively. Smith also finished with 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

The Bulldogs made 10 of 21 (47.6%) 3-pointers and 13 of 19 (68.4%) free throws. State held a 41-33 rebounding edge.

The Bears (0-6) were led by a trio of double-digit scorers. Junior guard Eddy Kayouloud led the squad with 20 points, while senior guard Rylan Bergersen added 15 and senior point guard DeAndre Jones 10 points.

Central Arkansas shot 24-for-61 (39.3%), including 7-fot-18 (38.9%) from 3-point range. The Bears made 10 of 12 (83.3%) from the free-throw line.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game before the Bears made it 6-2 with 17:36 left in the first stanza. MSU then made it 8-2 before Bergersen made all three free throws and then hit a triple to knot things up at 8-8 with 16:23 on the clock.

The Bulldogs scored the next eight points to go up 16-8, but the Bears clawed their way back before ultimately tying things up at 19-19 with 11:16 left.

State then went up seven at 33-26 with 4:08 left. Central Arkansas drew within two points before the teams went to the halftime break with the Bulldogs holding a 39-35 lead.

In the second half, MSU went up by 10 at 47-37 with 17:18 to play. The Bears trimmed the lead to six, but the Bulldogs used an 8-0 spurt to go up 14 at 55-41 with 14:08 to play.

MSU had a double-digit lead the rest of the way, going on to win 81-65.

The Bulldogs will return to action Monday when they host Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. CT.