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Mississippi State men’s basketball survives scare in 71-67 win over Arkansas

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Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

NCAA Tournament hopes remain alive for a Mississippi State men’s basketball squad with little to no room for error as the Bulldogs took down Arkansas 71-67 in a Saturday showdown at home.

Down two with 58 seconds left in the game, a clutch triple from none other than freshman sensation Josh Hubbard kickstarted a 6-0 Mississippi State run that would allow the team to hold on and win a hard-fought battle against an Arkansas group that has struggled this season.

The Razorbacks jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, but a 10-0 run by the home team gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish until the second half. Mississippi State took advantage of a slow offensive showing from their conference counterpart, holding a 23-15 advantage with under 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Buckets then started falling for Arkansas and the Razorbacks cut into the deficit, trailing by just one point with 5:18 left in the half. The two teams traded blows and Chris Jans’ squad posted a 34-29 lead at the half.

Things got interesting in the second half. Arkansas, led by Makhi Mitchell, opened up the first nine minutes on an offensive surge, outscoring Mississippi State 19-12 to take its first lead in nearly 25 minutes of play. A back-and-forth slugfest between the two teams ensued.

Mississippi State reclaimed the lead at the 8:39 mark courtesy of a layup by Hubbard. It was immediately countered and things were knotted up. For every Bulldog basket, there was an immediate follow-up by the Razorbacks. Both teams remained neck-and-neck, but Mississippi State maintained control of the game until Arkansas reclaimed the lead with 2:12 left in the game.

A Cam Matthews layup tied things back up 63-63, then a pair of successful free throw attempts put Arkansas back on top. A jumper by Hubbard evened out the scoreboard. With just over a minute left in the game, El Ellis gave the Razorbacks a two-point lead that was quickly erased by a heroic showing from Hubbard, catapulting the Bulldogs to victory.

Hubbard, despite shooting only 33% from the floor and 30% from three, led Mississippi State in scoring with 19 points. Matthews posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Mitchell’s 21 points and an 18-point outing from Khalif Battle highlighted Arkansas’ gritty offensive performance in a tough loss.

Though Mississippi State turned the ball over twice as many times as Arkansas, the Bulldogs were dominant on the boards, securing 15 more rebounds. A strong standing down low, the Bulldogs also had 10 more points in the paint than the Razorbacks.

Next up is a Tuesday night game at home against in-state rival Ole Miss beginning at 8 p.m. CT.

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