Starkville Daily News

MSU loses to LSU, on to SEC Tournament


Mississipp­i State was playing with house money going on the road to take on No. 5 LSU to close out the regular season.

As ESPN Bracketolo­gist Charlie Creme put it on the broadcast, the Bulldogs were “no question” locked into an NCAA Tournament. A win against the top five Tigers would do nothing but improve the seeding for the team so State could play loose.

Down by five points early in the fourth quarter, MSU couldn't find the plays to pull off what would have been one of the upsets of the year, however. The regular season came to an end with the Bulldogs falling 74-59 in front of the largest crowd in LSU basketball history.

“I'm proud of my team,” MSU head coach Sam Purcell said. “Obviously we want to win this game to end the regular season, but I couldn't be more proud of what we've done. There's so many great things that we can take from this game because we're going to be in this situation in the NCAA

Tournament where we're on someone's home court where it was absolutely loud and we couldn't hear. You've got to bottle that and learn from that if you want to steal one from someone.”

Rebounding was the issue for the Bulldogs. MSU gave up 21 offensive boards to the Tigers and they feasted on the offensive end because of it. LSU couldn't make 3-point field goals and it wasn't getting baskets on assists, but the Tigers finished the Bulldogs off by scoring 24 points after getting offensive boards. MSU scored just two second chance points in the loss and had three offensive rebounds.

The potential National Player of the Year Angel Reese had as many rebounds by herself (26) as the Maryland transfer dominated the Bulldog post players with 23 points and 26 rebounds for her 27th double-double. Alexis Morris also scored 23 on MSU.

“You try to prep for Angel Reese, but until you play her our kids just can't understand,” Purcell said. “I turn on the TV and every day she's having a 20 and 20. This is why LSU is one of the best teams in the country because they've got a star that can put up 20 and 20, which is unheard of.”

The Bulldogs got 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from Jerkaila Jordan and four rebounds and she was hampered by four fouls. Jessika Carter managed 10 points and six rebounds. State shot a decent percentage from the field at 23-of-49 and made 4-of12 3-pointers but were just 9-of-17 from the freethrow line.

The Tigers were 27-of66, missed all 14 3-pointers and hit 20-of-27 free throws. LSU turned it over just eight times while the Bulldogs had 11. MSU was out-rebounded 48-26 and had 13 assists.

The Bulldogs got as close as five points in the fourth quarter when Ramani Parker hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession but could never get closer. The loss dropped MSU to 20-9 this season in Purcell's first year and it finished 9-7 in SEC play with the team's

EAST WEBSTER | JR |GIRL’S BASKETBALL best overall and Southeaste­rn Conference record since the 2019-20 season.

Postseason officially begins now for the Bulldogs. They are the No. 5 seed in the SEC Tournament with a matchup coming next Thursday with either Texas A&M or Vanderbilt in Greenville, S.C.

“I think we're an NCAA Tournament team unless absolute chaos happens,” Purcell said. “Our team knows what's up because we're trying to improve our seeding and make sure that there is no grey area. We've got to prepare for potentiall­y four games (in the SEC Tournament). We'll try to prep for both teams and then you're playing. I like where my team is, but we've got to make sure that this game doesn't linger.”

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