STARKVILLE, Miss. - After trailing by nine points with 1:52 remaining, the LSU men's basketball team made a valiant comeback effort behind a trio of Anthony Hickey three-pointers in the final moments before being dealt a 76-71 loss at No. 18 Mississippi State Wednesday inside Humphrey Coliseum.
All four of LSU's (12-8, 2-4 SEC) league setbacks have come away from the Maravich Center, the last two versus Top 20 opponents. Mississippi State (17-4, 4-2 SEC) has won 12 of 13 home decisions this season and five of the last six meetings against the Tigers.
Hickey ignited the charge with a deep triple from the top of the key and pulled LSU back to 68-62 with 1:07 remaining. After a LSU timeout, Hickey jumped the passing lane on an inbounds play and saved the possession for the Tigers. He buried another three-ball to make it 68-65 at the 1:03 mark.
The Bulldogs used two Dee Bost free throws to go back ahead by a pair of possessions, 70-65. Seven seconds later, Ralston Turner knocked down a contested three-pointer from the left baseline to draw LSU within 70-68.
MSU's Rodney Hood responded with two more free throws to put the Bulldogs up 72-68, but the Tigers wouldn't go away as Hickey banged home another triple off glass with 18 seconds on the clock.
The Bulldogs continued their strong effort at the charity stripe down the stretch, and Jalen Steele sunk his two attempts to give MSU a 74-71 edge with 13 seconds to go. On LSU's next possession, Hickey's pass attempt over a double team was deflected. He recovered the ball, but had it taken away by Bost. MSU added two more at the foul line to secure the 76-71 win.
Andre Stringer led the way for LSU with 17 points off the bench, his highest output since the South Alabama game on November 23. Hickey tacked on 16 points, six assists and three steals, while Justin Hamilton claimed 11 points to reach double figures for the seventh consecutive game.
MSU was fueled by Arnett Moultrie's 28 points and 12 rebounds. It was Moultrie's 12th double-double and ninth time over the 20-point plateau on the season. Steele and Hood tacked on 15 and 13 points, respectively. Bost turned in a strong all-around effort with nine points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
The Tigers led for a majority of the first half and surged ahead 28-22 on a Hamilton lay-up with 3:56 remaining. MSU fired back with 10 of final 13 points of the stanza highlighted by a pair of Steele triples to grab a 32-31 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs continued their strong play during the opening moments of the second half and took their largest lead at 47-35 after a Moultrie jumper with 14:14 on the clock.
LSU returns home Saturday to square off against No. 1 Kentucky. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m., and the game will be televised by the SEC Network along with ESPN3.com
The LSU Sports Radio Network also will broadcast the game on 100.7 FM (The Tiger) in the Baton Rouge area. Jim Hawthorne, Kevin Ford and Ricky Blanton will call the action.