Rapid Reaction: MSU 69, Texas A&M 60

November, 17, 2011

NEW YORK -- A quick take on Mississippi State's 69-60 victory over No. 18 Texas A&M at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

What it means: The Bulldogs improve to 3-1 on the season, and earn a spot in Friday night's championship game of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. The Aggies (2-1) suffer their first loss of the season.

The skinny: Mississippi State played a ferocious first 10 minutes, sprinting out to a 31-9 lead midway through the first half. But then the Bulldogs seemed to relax, and the Aggies worked their way back into the game, trailing 41-32 at intermission. Eight players appeared for Mississippi State in the first half, and all eight scored.

The Bulldogs began the second half on a 7-0 run to expand the lead back to 16, and never were in serious danger from there. The Aggies finally cut it to single digits at 58-50 with 4:28 to play -- but they never got closer than that.

Team effort: Mississippi State was led by senior guards Dee Bost (20 points) and Brian Bryant (12). Freshman swingman Rodney Hood added 10, and two other players chipped in 8. Talented 6-foot-10 junior Renardo Sidney was 0-for-9 from the field, finishing with just 3 points and 6 rebounds.

Junior guard Elston Turner had 13 points to lead Texas A&M.

Hard to believe: Mississippi State shot just 10-for-30 (30 percent) in the second half, yet was never really challenged. For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs looked like the best team in the country; they were mediocre at best after that.

What's next: Mississippi State will take on No. 16 Arizona, the winner of the second semifinal, in the championship game Friday at 6:30 p.m. Texas A&M will play St. John's in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m. ESPN2 will televise both games.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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