Mississippi State takes down No. 8 Auburn

Published 8:48 pm Saturday, January 27, 2024

STARKVILLE (AP) —Mississippi State signed its name to a signature victory on Saturday.

Josh Hubbard scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and Cameron Matthews had 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Bulldogs beat No. 8 Auburn, 64-58, for their second victory against a top-10 opponent this season.

DJ Jeffries made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 11 seconds and grabbed 12 rebounds to help seal the win for Mississippi State (14-6, 3-4 SEC). Shakeel Moore scored 12 points and Tolu Smith added nine points and eight rebounds.

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Johni Broome scored 14 points and Jaylin Williams added 10 to lead Auburn (16-4, 5-2).

“We didn’t hardly practice on Thursday,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Jans said. “We just felt like we were going to try to ease up a little bit and Friday wasn’t quite as long with as much physicality segments to it. We tried to sell them on being fresher for the game. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I felt like we played the way we have to play to win the game.”

It was Hubbard’s first start of his collegiate career. The freshman was 7-of-16 from the field and added three rebounds. He is currently the leading freshman scorer in the SEC at 14.9 points a game.

“Not really,” said Hubbard about feeling different with his first career start. “Coach Jans always tells us the starting lineups are just the starters for the game. We have great depth and we know a lot of people on our team are going to play. Only difference is, I am getting my name called first. So I still had that same mentality and nothing is going to change as far as my mindset or anything like that.”

Tied at halftime, Auburn trailed for much of the second half until Tre Donaldson’s three-point play gave the Tigers a 46-45 advantage with 7:51 remaining. But that was the last lead of the game for Auburn.

Matthews rebounded his own missed free throw and scored to give State a 53-49 lead with 3:50 left in the second half. Auburn cut it to 55-54, only to see a Hubbard 3-pointer stretch the lead to 58-54 with 1:37 to go. The Bulldogs then made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 32.6 seconds to secure the victory.

For the game, Auburn was held to 34 percent shooting and the Tigers made just 6 of 24 shots from 3-point range. Auburn was 14-of-16 at the foul line and had 14 turnovers.

Mississippi State shot 44 percent for the game and made just 9 of 18 at the foul line. The Bulldogs had 14 turnovers and outrebounded the Tigers 45-30, including 14 offensive boards.

“Mississippi State played great defense the whole game,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We played good defense in the first half, but in the second half, while we were better offensively, we just let them get so many second-chance points. I thought we did a good job of defending Tolu Smith. If you had told me we would come here and we could hold Tolu to just six shots, I would tell you we have a fighting chance. And we did.”

Mississippi State added Saturday’s win over No. 8 Auburn to its previous victory against then-No. 5 Tennessee on Jan. 10. It’s the first time the Bulldogs have beaten two top-10 opponents in the same season since 2001-02.

The Bulldogs’ next game is Tuesday at Ole Miss. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.