Mississippi State 68, Southeastern Louisiana 62

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[December 14, 2013]  TUPELO, Miss. — Mississippi State 68, Southeastern Louisiana 62: Craig Sword keyed the effort with 22 points as the Bulldogs held off the Lions at BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss.

Sword was 9-for-11 from the field for Mississippi State (6-2), which overcame a 15-for-28 performance from the free-throw line to get the win. Sword was the only Bulldog in double figures, although Gavin Ware and Colin Borchert contributed nine apiece.

Antonnio Benton racked up a career high for the second consecutive game, tallying 26 points and eight rebounds for Southeastern Louisiana (3-6), which dropped its fourth straight. Benton was 10-for-17 from the floor while the rest of the Lions combined for a 15-for-46 effort.

Neither team held a lead of more than six in the second half and JaMichael Hawkins had a chance to give the Lions the lead with just over a minute to go, but his jumper was blocked by Fred Thomas. Sword made a layup on the ensuing possession with 43 seconds to go and Joshua Fillmore missed a 3-pointer on the other end to seal the Lions’ fate.

Mississippi State jumped out to a 12-2 advantage early, holding the Lions to just one field goal in the first 7:40 of the contest. Southeastern Louisiana rallied though, making 12 of its final 20 field goal attempts to take a 33-32 halftime lead.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Benton’s 20-plus point effort was his second straight and also just the second of his career. … Southeastern Louisiana is 1-56 against SEC opponents since joining Division I. … Mississippi State is 4-0 all-time in Tupelo.

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