GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Despite leading for over 24 minutes, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team fell 80-72 against the Florida Gators on Wednesday night at Exactech Arena.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 12-5 (3-2 SEC), while the Gators improve to 11-6 (2-3 SEC).
Sophomore guard Shakeel Moore scored 18 points to lead the Bulldogs and redshirt junior forward Tolu Smith added 17 points. Junior guard Iverson Molinar chipped in with 12 points and five assists.
MSU shot 27-for-50 (54%) for the game and 4-for-13 (30.8%) on 3-pointers. The Gators shot 23-for-45 (51.1%) and 10-for-24 (41.7%) on 3s. MSU also made just 14 free throws to Florida’s 24.
The Gators were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder in senior forward Colin Castleton due to a left shoulder injury. Senior forward Anthony Duruji scored 18 of his career-high 22 points in the second half to lead the squad. Senior guard Tyree Appleby added 17 points with four 3-pointers, while freshman guard Kowacie Reeves and graduate guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. chipped in with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
In the first half. MSU used a 13-2 spurt to take a double-digit lead at 35-25 with 3:44 left in the half. The Gators cut the deficit to three at 35-32, but the Bulldogs managed a six-point halftime lead at 41-35.
In the second half, the Bulldogs held a small lead until 11:49 to play when the Gators knotted things up at 52-52. MSU used a mini 7-0 spurt to go up 61-53 with 8:57 left.
A 24-5 run by the Gators then gave them a 77-66 lead with 1:18 left. They scored 14 straight during the run and the Bulldogs only made four field goals in the final 10 minutes to give Florida an 80-72 win.
The Bulldogs will now return to Humphrey Coliseum to host Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.