AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Mississippi State took Auburn's best shot --
including a pair of career performances -- and kept its impressive
Shane Power hit four free throws in the final 19 seconds and No.
11 Mississippi State won 73-68 on Saturday for its best league
start in 41 years.
"We took an awfully good shot," Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury
said. "We knew they had their backs to the wall. We knew this had
to be a monster game for them."
Mississippi State (18-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) could be
heading for a big season, winning its fifth straight since a
one-point loss to Kentucky and racing to a league-best record.
"Mississippi State showed everybody here today why they are so
good," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "Our guys fought hard and I
think we had the best perimeter game we have had all year."
It wasn't enough as the Bulldogs outrebounded Auburn 41-25.
"Rebounding is mental. When you have an attitude, you can
rebound," said Brown, who had a career-high 20 points. "They just
had a bad attitude tonight."
Auburn cut it to 67-66 with 2:10 left when Monroe stole the ball
from Winsome Frazier, and Brandon Robinson tipped in a missed shot.
Brown had made three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point
attempt 38 seconds earlier to keep the Tigers' hopes of an upset
Then, Roberts hit two free throws with 1:11 left and Mississippi
State got the ball back but committed a turnover off a deflected
pass. Nathan Watson followed up his own miss to make it 69-68 with
21 seconds left, and Marco Killingsworth promptly fouled Power
after the inbound pass.
Power made both and hit two more with three seconds left after
Watson missed a free throw and a 3-pointer.
"I definitely think that was toughness," Bowers said. "They
just kept fighting. They just shot the ball well. On the road,
you've got to have the poise and confidence to go out and make the
The Bulldogs are off to their best league start since the
1962-63 team opened 8-1. They had won their last four SEC games by
This one wasn't nearly so easy, with Brown scoring a career-high
and Monroe adding 17, his highest total. In fact, Monroe made six
of his seven shots after going 2-of-23 in his first six games back
from a broken left foot.
"We're getting healthy," said Watson, who had 12 points and
five assists. "Seeing him go out there and make big shots like
that just gives us that much more confidence in our team."
Killingsworth was held to eight points and three rebounds after
playing only four minutes of the first half. He and Roberts both
played the second half with three fouls.
Branden Vincent had 13 points for the Bulldogs while Power
finished with 10 points and four steals.
Killingsworth picked up two fouls in the first four minutes
trying to guard Roberts, who drew foul after foul from a group of
defenders but still recorded his 12th double-double.
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Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., who averaged 15.8 points in 13 games before being injured last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft.
Isaiah Briscoe has decided to withdraw from the NBA draft and will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Marcus Lee intends to transfer.
The Big 12/SEC Challenge will again feature Kansas and Kentucky, this time at Rupp Arena. That's not the only exciting matchup in next season's midseason conference showdown.