NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — With its top scorer being held in check, Mississippi State turned to its secondary players to record a 67-61 win over Kansas State on Saturday in the first game of the Never Forget Tribute Classic.
Tyson Carter scored 14 points, but struggled with his shot, making only 3 of 13 from the floor. However, the senior guard was 7 of 10 from the line for the Bulldogs (7-2).
Abdul Ado, who entered the game averaging just 3.8 points for Mississippi State, scored a season-high 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Robert Woodard II scored 12 with 10 rebounds and D.J. Stewart Jr. added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
“If you told me we were going to win the game with Tyson (Carter) and (guard) Reggie (Perry) going 5 for 27 (from the floor) I would have been skeptical at best,” said Mississippi State coach Ben Howland. “Our other players stepped up offensively and Tyson did a lot of tough, hard-nosed things for us today.”
Cartier Diarra scored 20 points and Mike McGuirl added 14 for Kansas State (6-4).
McGuirl’s tip-in with 59.4 to go drew Kansas State to within 64-61, but Carter sealed it with two free throws with 10 seconds left.
Stewart’s free throw capped a 7-0 Bulldogs’ run for a 62-58 lead with 2:04 to play.
Mississippi State took the lead for good 59-58 on a layup from Stewart with 3:11 left and a jumper from Carter on the next possession pushed the Bulldogs’ lead to 61-58.
Carter, who carries the bulk of the Bulldog workload, averaging 33 minutes, scored five of his team’s final 12 points,
“We want him (Carter) to have the ball when the game is on the line and they have to foul,” Howland said.
The Bulldogs tied it at 55 on two free throws from Reggie Perry with 5:05 to play.
Mississippi State trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Kansas State, which shot 6 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half, failed to connect from long distance on its seven shots in the second half. It finished 32.6% from beyond the arc for the game.
“I thought in the first half we did a decent job of moving the ball side-to-side,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. “In the second half maybe not quite as much.”
Diarra leads the Wildcats in assists, averaging seven a game, but didn’t record one in 35 minutes and he turned the ball over three times.
Kansas State was playing its first game in New Jersey since 2006. Mississippi State played in the Never Forget Tribute Classic last year.
Kansas State: With its offense continuing to develop, Kansas State has had to rely on its defensive prowess. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in average points allowed and defensive field goal percentage. They held Mississippi State to 40% shooting (23 of 58).
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs need to find a consistent scorer to take the pressure off guard Tyson Carter, who has led his team in scoring in five of the first eight games. He scored 14 points on Saturday on 3-of-13 shooting.
Kansas State plays Saint Louis in the Wildcat Classic in Kansas City on Dec. 21.
Mississippi State hosts Radford on Dec. 18.