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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On this night, the Memorial Magic was dressed in Maroon.

Mississippi State mounted a monumental comeback Saturday night as the 15th-ranked Bulldogs rallied from down 11 points at halftime to knock off Vanderbilt 78-77 in an overtime thriller played in the Memorial Gym.

Winning for only the ninth time ever in Nashville (and first time in Memorial since 2004), MSU notched its first conference road win of the year, while moving to 16-4 overall and 3-2 in league play. Vanderbilt saw an eight-game win streak snapped, while falling to 14-5 and 4-1.

After a narrow defeat at Ole Miss Wednesday night, a chance to maintain its national ranking looked shaky at best as the Maroon and White plodded through a difficult first half.

Things changed suddenly in the second half as the Bulldogs reeled off 14 straight points in less than three minutes to erase a 39-28 halftime deficit. The Bulldogs hit their first seven 3-point baskets of that half and led by as many as 10 before Vanderbilt rallied to force overtime.

“This is one of the best defensive teams Vanderbilt has ever had,” MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “They are a complete team. For our team to go on the road and pull off a win like this, it is special.”

The Commodores quickly built a 16-6 lead less than six minutes into the contest. Vanderbilt shot 53.6 percent in the opening half, including a 7-of-12 half from 3-point range. The Commodores ran the lead to 12 points at 24-12 with 9:31 left.

Vanderbilt would lead by as many as 13 before easing into halftime with the 39-28 advantage.

“Vanderbilt just made shots,” Stansbury said. “It was not like our defensive effort was bad. They have good shooters and they stepped up and made shots. At halftime, we were not discouraged, just knew we had to play better.”

The Bulldogs closed within two on a Dee Bost 3-pointer and tied the contest on a layup by Renardo Sidney. One possession later, a Rodney Hood 3-pointer gave the Maroon and White its first lead, at 42-39.

Behind the balanced scoring of Arnett Moultrie, Sidney and Bost, the Bulldogs pieced together a 22-2 run to take a 48-41 lead with 15:24 left.

From there, Jalen Steele took care of the offensive firepower, jamming a series of critical 3-point baskets as the Maroon and White built a 63-53 lead with 7:50 left.

The Commodores scored the game’s next nine points to close within one. Not deterred, MSU ran the lead out to 68-62 before VU got back-to-back 3-point baskets from Lance Goulbourne and John Jenkins in the final 1:20 of regulation.

Each team had a possession in the final 10 seconds but neither scored and overtime was forced at 68-68.

“The kids were really down in the huddle going into the overtime,” Stansbury said. “We had to get them back up because it was a still a very winnable game.”

Moultrie set the tone in overtime with his squad’s first five points. Sidney also added a critical 3-point basket. The Bulldogs missed the front end of two different one-plus-ones but survived when Jenkins missed a 3-pointer off the iron as time expired.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 27 of 62 shots from the field (43.5 percent), 10 of 20 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 14 of 21 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Commodores hit 29 of 60 shots from the field (48.3 percent), 14 of 27 shots from 3-point range (51.9 percent) and 5 of 9 shots from the foul line (55.6 percent).

Bost led the Bulldogs with 24 points. Moultrie posted his conference-best 11th double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Steele added 15 points.

Vanderbilt received 21 points from Jenkins, 19 points from Jeffery Taylor, 12 points from Festus Ezeli and 12 points from Goulbourne. Ezeli also had a double-double, as he grabbed 14 rebounds.

The Bulldogs host LSU at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Humphrey Coliseum. That contest will be televised regionally by the SEC Network and shown in the Golden Triangle area on My Mississippi.



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