CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) Travis Daniels scored 21 points and Mississippi State used a hot start to race past Saint Louis 75-50 in the Corpus Christi Coast Challenge semifinals Friday night.
Gavin Ware added 16 points and Fred Thomas had 14 for the Bulldogs (5-0).
Austin McBroom led Saint Louis (3-2) with 10 points.
The Bulldogs hit 12 of their first 15 shots, including all three 3's, to race to a 31-16 lead at the 8:26 mark. MSU opened the scoring with those treys, with Thomas sandwiching a Daniels' 3 in the first 3 minutes. When Thomas was fouled on a 3 and hit all three free throws, it was 16-5 barely 5 minutes into the game.
Following a McBroom jumper for the Billikens, Thomas made a jumper and Daniels had a 3 and it was 36-18 at the 5:28 mark.
After a media timeout, Milik Yarbrough made two baskets and Tanner Lancona a third to cut the deficit to 12, and when McBroom hit a 3 at the buzzer it was 37-27 at the half.
Mississippi State shot 62.6 percent in the first half (14-22), including 4 of 5 3-pointers. The Bulldogs had a whopping 19-5 rebounding margin, but nine turnovers helped the Billikens creep back into the game.
Achraf Yacoubou and Yarbrough scored to bring Saint Louis within 42-35 with 16:54 to play but Daniels answered with a three-point play, Thomas hit another 3 and Daniel had a layup to push the lead back to 15 less than 2 minutes later. That surge turned into an 18-2 run as Ware closed with six-straight points, including two dunks, for a 60-37 lead with 8:50 remaining.
Mississippi State ended up shooting 55.6 percent from the field and went 8 of 17 from three-point range. Saint Louis shot 36.4 percent and only made 5 of 13 free throws.
Mississippi State: This was the Bulldogs' first game off-campus this season. ... Mississippi State is 89-77 all-time in mid-season tournaments with 19 titles. The Bulldogs' last crown came at the 2011 2K Sports Classic in New York City. ... The Bulldogs are 10-6 all-time against the 11 teams that comprise the Atlantic 10 Conference. ... Craig Sword saw his first action after having back surgery in October.
Saint Louis: Miles Reynolds had a career-high 19 points in the Billikens' win against NC A&T on Tuesday but only made two free throws against Mississippi State. ... All three of SLU's victories this year have come while holding the opposition to fewer than 60 points. ... The Billikens have won 63 games in a row when holding their opponents to 60 or fewer points. The last time the Billikens lost while giving up 60 or fewer points was Jan 29, 2011, a 52-46 defeat at George Washington. ... The only other time the two teams played, Saint Louis won 63-46 in 1950.
Mississippi State out-rebounded Saint Louis 39-24. Five Bulldogs had at least four rebounds. The Bulldogs have out-rebounded their opponents by 12 or more boards in all five games. Guard Achraf Yacoubou has led Saint Louis in rebounding in each game this season, including getting just three against Mississippi State, tying two teammates for the team lead.
Mississippi State came into the game leading the SEC in free throws made (22.8) and attempted (30.8) but only attempted nine, making seven.
Mississippi State meets TCU for the title on Saturday.
Saint Louis faces Bradley in the third-place game on Saturday.