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January 18, 2014
Ware, Sword, Power Bulldogs to Overtime Slug fest Against Aggies
Mississippi State (12-5, 2-2) fought back from 10-down on Saturday afternoon and sent the game to overtime beating the Texas A&M Aggies (12-5, 3-1), 81-72. 20-plus points from two players including the eighth-career double-double from Gavin Ware proved to be the contributing factor for the Bulldogs as they rebounded from a loss on Wednesday.
It couldn't have started much sloppier for the Bulldogs in the first half and they allowed two threes out of the gate to fall behind 6-0 to the Aggies just a minute in the game. Over the next few minutes, MSU would get six points from Gavin Ware but just one from the rest of the team and they trailed.
The game went back and forth throughout the first half from a 3-8 point A&M lead and the Bulldogs were getting no closer. State finally began to get thing going in transition and from the perimeter as Craig Sword and Fred Thomas hit consecutive threes to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at halftime, 27-26.
It was a sloppy first half for both sides and the Bulldogs were fortunate to hold the lead as Ware led the way with seven points.
The second half was tooth and nail with both teams going back and forth with each other before A&M took their lead out to 10 points with 10:21 remaining in the first half after a big three. The Bulldogs would get back in it, however as they scored six straight points to cut it to four with eight minutes left.
"We were grinding the whole game," Sword said. "We've been working on it in practice, it doesn't matter how many points we're down, we just have to get stops. They were hitting a lot of shots but we found a way to get around it and win."
The lead went from four and seven points over the next three minutes as the Bulldogs tried to cut into the lead but couldn't. Finally, with 3:20 left, the Bulldogs cut the lead to one after a Sword steal and lead pass to Thomas for two points.
The Bulldogs went back and forth to a three point and one point game before finally getting the lead back on two Colin Borchert free throws with 1:55 left made it 64-63.
A&M would retake the lead on two free throws and Ware missed his shot on the other end but stole the pass and laid it up for two and the tie at 67 points with 24 seconds left.
"There were all type of emotions running through my head," Ware said of the late bucket. "Coach always told us once they get the rebound just get back. On that rebound, the five man had the ball so I told Colin let's try to trap him. When I figured out that wasn't going to get back and I got in stride and the ball got in my hand."
The MSU defense would hold in regulation and force their second overtime of the season.
The two teams came out trading baskets and the lead before the Bulldogs extended a two-point lead to four after two Ware free throws with 2:15 remaining in the game. Over the next minute, the Bulldogs would seal the deal with strong defense and clutch shots.
State would roll in overtime outscoring the Aggies 14-5 in overtime to win their second-straight SEC game at home and fifth-straight overall. Ware dominated in the overtime with eight points in the extra period.
"I felt that I needed to be the guy that stepped up. I knew that my teammates wanted to step up also but Texas A&M had a smaller lineup at four and five and I felt like it was my time to eat, as they say," Ware said of his overtime performance. "I just used that advantage. I just found a way and grinded it out."
State was led by the 23 points of Sword hitting 8-13 shots off the free throw line and adding six rebounds. Ware also scored over 20 points with a 22-point performance and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Borchert added 14 points, five rebounds and four assist and Thomas had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.
MSU was 64% in the seconds half and 53% on the game from the field. They outscored the Aggies 16-0 in fast break points and 44-26 in the paint. They also out-rebounded the Aggies 38-33.
MSU now moves forward to another home game against the Auburn Tigers at 7 p.m.
Mississippi State NEWS