9:00 PM ET, March 2, 2004
Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Mississippi
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- When Winsome Frazier and Mississippi State are knocking down 3-pointers, the Bulldogs might be the best team in the country.Just ask Auburn.Frazier scored a career-high 26 points and made six 3-pointers to lead No. 5 Mississippi State to a 105-91 victory over Auburn that clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference title for the Bulldogs on Tuesday night.Mississippi State (24-2, 13-2) can earn its first outright SEC crown since 1963 with a win at Alabama on Saturday, or a loss by No. 9 Kentucky at South Carolina on Wednesday night."I don't think anybody would have beaten this team tonight," Tigers coach Cliff Ellis said. "You could bring whoever you wanted in here -- St. Joe's, Duke -- it wouldn't have mattered. They made some unbelievable shots."Fading Auburn (13-13, 4-11) has lost four straight overall, and seven in a row to Mississippi State.Shane Power had 17 points and Timmy Bowers, a senior playing in his last home game, added 15 for the Bulldogs, who also have their sights set on a top seed in the NCAA tournament."If they play like they did tonight; they could go all the way," Ellis said.The Bulldogs received hats and T-shirts after the game proclaiming them the 2004 SEC champions, and even cut down the nets."What a way to cap off your final game at home," Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. "We came out tonight and it was very obvious, again, who was going to win that basketball game from the start."Lawrence Roberts, the leading candidate for SEC player of the year, had 12 points and 15 rebounds as Mississippi State set a season high for points.The 3-point shot usually isn't Mississippi State's weapon of choice. The Bulldogs average just under six makes per game from behind the arc.On this night, though, they nearly doubled their average in the first half and surpassed their season high, going 11-for-22 as Auburn gave Mississippi State plenty of good looks from long range.Frazier led the way by knocking down four straight during one stretch, three from almost the exact spot in the right corner.The junior guard's fifth 3 of the half made it 24-12 less than eight minutes into the game."It's like a trigger in your brain. Once it clicks, it clicks," Frazier said of his shooting stroke. "Coach can tell you, I'll shoot from the time when I have to."Bowers ended the half with his third 3-pointer to make it 53-38.Auburn, playing without top scorer Marco Killingsworth, struggled to keep pace with Mississippi State's three-at-a-time attack.The 6-foot-7 power forward had to sit out a mandatory NCAA suspension after being ejected from his last game against Tennessee for fighting.Brandon Robinson scored 24 points and Lewis Monroe had 16 for the Tigers.Even missed dunks turned into three points for Mississippi State.Early in the second half, Branden Vincent missed a slam and the ball bounced out to Power, who had all the time he needed to set his feet and drop in a 3. That play was part of 13-5 run, which put the Bulldogs up 66-43."I think shooting does become contagious," Power said.Mississippi State finished 14-for-30 from behind the arc. The final one by freshman Gary Ervin made it 79-59 with 10:50 left.The Bulldogs broke the century mark, appropriately enough on senior night, on a jumper by little-used senior center Lincoln Smith.Mississippi State was able to give their top guns a little extra rest heading into the regular-season finale against the Crimson Tide.Alabama joined Kentucky as the only teams to beat the Bulldogs on Feb. 21. The Tide won 77-73 in Starkville."Alabama came into our house and beat us in every aspect of the game," Power said. "Good teams usually respond to that. We'll see if we're a good team or not on Saturday."
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