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Smith scores 27 to lead Mississippi State past Florida 72-69

Bulldogs improve to 9-5.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith scored 27 points as Mississippi State edged past Florida 72-69 at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday.

Smith finished 11-for-13 and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win.

The Bulldogs (9-5, 4-2 SEC) had four players score in double figures and are now 7-1 when four or more players reach the double-digit scoring mark.

Sophomore guard Iverson Molinar had 13 points, while redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. and redshirt senior forward Abdul Ado had 11 points apiece. Ado also had nine boards.

As a team, MSU shot 29-for-60 (48.3%) from the field and 1-for-8 (12.5%) from 3-point range. The Bulldogs did most of their damage from inside and held a 52-30 advantage in points in the paint.

The Bulldogs also took advantage of their 47-26 rebounding edge by owning an 18-2 edge in second chance points.

Florida (6-4, 3-3 SEC) shot 25-for-61 (41.0%) from the field, including 5-for-19 (26.3%) on 3-pointers, The Gators made 14 of 16 free throws.

Junior guard Tyree Appleby led the Gators with 20 points. He made all 11 of his free throws in the game. Junior forward Colin Castleton and sophomore guard Tre Mann had 16 and 14 points, respectively.

The squads traded baskets throughout the first half with neither team leading by more than five points.

The Bulldogs led 29-28 with 2:01 to go in the first half and then scored the last four points, including a jumper by Jalen Johnson with six seconds to play, to lead 32-29 at the halftime break.

MSU started the second half with the first eight points to take a 40-29 lead with 18:22 left. The Gators managed to cut the lead down to four at 56-52 on a Castleton layup with 8:00 left, but the Bulldogs increased their lead back to 11 points at 69-58 with 1:36 to play.

Florida then used an 11-3 run at the end of the game for a chance to tie the game, but Mann’s 3-pointee at the buzzer fell short.

The Bulldogs return to action Tuesday when they host rival Ole Miss at 8 p.m. CT.