STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Tyson Carter poured in a career-high 25 points on Wednesday to lead Mississippi State to an 80-75 win over previously unbeaten Stephen F. Austin at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs made all eight of their free throws in the final minute to secure the win. Mississippi State moved to 4-0 for the first time since starting off 5-0 in 2014-15.
Mississippi State took the lead for good after Carter's layup with 14:45 left to play. That also started an 11-0 run by the Bulldogs and the lead eventually ballooned to as many as 16 points.
However, the Lumberjacks made a strong push in the final two minutes. Back-to-back 3-pointers by TJ Holyfield and Shannon Bogues cut the Mississippi State lead to 78-75 with 15 seconds left. But Aric Holman iced the game with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
Quinndary Weatherspoon added a season-high 20 points for the Bulldogs while his brother, Nick Weatherspoon, had a career-high 15 points. Holman also finished in double digits for Mississippi State with 10 points.
"That was obviously a huge win and a great comeback against the best team we've played so far," said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. "I told our team before the game that (Stephen F. Austin) will be an NCAA Tournament team and tonight reinforced my thoughts.
"I thought the way Tyson played in the second half really spear-headed our comeback. He drove the lane in multiple ways and put his head down and drove the ball in there."
For the game, Mississippi State shot 55.8 percent, including 66.7 percent in the second half. The Bulldogs were also 26 of 35 at the free throw line while Stephen F. Austin made 16 of 18 at the free throw line. The Lumberjacks shot just 37.3 percent and has 12 turnovers.
The first half featured five ties and five lead changes in the first ten minutes before Stephen F. Austin gained control. The Lumberjacks took an 18-15 lead after Bogues' 3-pointer and built the lead to as many as eight before halftime. Stephen F. Austin shot 41.6 percent in the half and led 40-32 lead at the break.
Mississippi St. committed 11 first-half turnovers and missed eight of nine attempts from 3-point range. Free throws kept the Bulldogs close, however, as they shot 15 of 20.
"We went in at halftime and we knew we'd been struggling a little bit on our 3s," said Carter. "They didn't have a true five man in the post so we thought we could drive to the basket and score. They were pressuring us out far and it opened up the driving lanes."
Carter was 9 of 14 from the field, made 6 of 7 at the free throw line and scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half. The Bulldog sophomore did struggle beyond the arc, however, and missed five of his six 3-point attempts.
Mississippi State had a slight edge in rebounds, 35-31. Holman and Quinndary Weatherspoon each had seven rebounds for the Bulldogs while Abdul Ado had a career-high five blocked shots.
Bogues had 20 to lead Stephen F. Austin (4-1) and Holyfield had 19. Ivan Canete and Leon Gilmore III also finished in double digits for the Lumberjacks with 15 and 12 points respectively.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks are now 3 -26 all-time against Southeastern Conference opponents. The only three wins came against Texas A&M before the Aggies joined the SEC.
Mississippi State: Sophomore Lamar Peters missed Wednesday's game due to a violation of team rules. Mississippi State struggled in the first half with 11 turnovers with the absence of their point guard.
Stephen F. Austin returns home Sunday and will host Florida A&M.
Mississippi State continues a seven-game home stand on Sunday hosting Jacksonville State.