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Bulldogs surge past Florida with second-half rally

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Reggie Perry scored a career-high 27 points, Robert Woodard added 16, and Mississippi State beat Florida 78-71 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight victory in Southeastern Conference play.

Tyson Carter chipped in 12, including seven straight points to turn the game in the second half. The Bulldogs (13-7, 4-3 SEC) rallied from 16 points down to notch their first road victory of 2020.

Florida (12-8, 4-3) was hot early, shooting 58 percent in the first half and making 8 of 14 from 3-point range.

But Mississippi State whittled the lead behind Perry and really took over after intermission. The Bulldogs made 12 of their first 17 shots in the second half to help build a comfortable lead.

Florida had no answer for Perry inside or out. The 250-pound sophomore made 9 of 14 shots, including all three from behind the arc. He also was 6-of-7 from the free throw line to go along with eight rebounds and seven turnovers.

Perry tied his previous career high (26) last week against Arkansas, but was even better in Gainesville. Nick Weatherspoon also reached double figures for State, finishing with 13 points and eight assists.

Scottie Lewis led Florida with a career-high 17 points, including 10 in the first five minutes of the game. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 13 points and seven rebounds. The Gators have lost three straight.

The Gators were up 36-20 with six minutes to play in the first half, then Blackshear picked up his second foul a minute later. Perry took over, scoring eight points down the stretch and getting the Bulldogs back in the game.

Florida had chances down the stretch. Trailing 70-66 with about three minutes remaining, Keyontae Johnson missed a layup from point-blank range and Noah Locke dribbled off his foot on the following possession.

Woodard drained a 3 on the other end to extend the lead back to seven.