Missouri's Johnathan Williams III, left, drives past Mississippi State's Roquez Johnson, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
L.G. Patterson
February 14, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said Saturday he doesn't care how his team wins on the road, just so long as it does. Still, he would like the Bulldogs to play better when holding a lead.

''I thought we got a little lackadaisical out there and lost some discipline, but fortunately we were able to hang on for the win,'' he said after his team held off Missouri, 77-74.

After generating an 11-point halftime lead, the Bulldogs (12-13, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) converted all six of their free throws in the final minute to edge the Tigers, who lost their 11th consecutive game since winning their SEC opener against LSU on Jan. 8.

Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword both finished with 22 points to pace Mississippi State, which ended a two-game losing streak and won its third league game on the road.

Johnathan Williams III finished with a career-high 27 points for Missouri (7-18, 1-11), while Keith Shamburger added 15 and Ryan Rosburg a season-high 12.

''You've heard it before,'' Tigers coach Kim Anderson said. ''We got close, and we just couldn't finish the deal.''

Despite Missouri scoring the first five points of the game, the Bulldogs seized control in the first half, using a 21-5 run to grab a 33-16 lead with 7:21 remaining before halftime. The Tigers answered with seven points of their own, but trailed 40-29 entering the break.

Missouri came to life in the second half, using a 13-4 run to narrow its deficit to 46-42 five minutes in. When Keanau Post drained a layup with 4:29 remaining to give the Tigers a 64-63 advantage - the team's first lead in nearly 32 minutes - an elated crowd of 8,278 jumped to its feet, hoping for an end to the school's longest losing streak in 48 years.

It wasn't meant to be, though, as Johnson answered with a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound to give the Bulldogs the lead for good despite the pressurized final 60 seconds.

''Everyone was all excited,'' Rosburg said. ''That's just the way it is. One possession can change everything. If they don't get that and we build a lead, then who knows what happens.''

TIP-INS

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs combined to shoot 31 of 91 (34.1 percent) in their previous two games, but finished 23 of 41 (56.1 percent) Saturday, moving to 9-1 when shooting 45 percent or better in a game.

Missouri: The Tigers honored this year's inductees to the school's Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime, including current NFL players Chase Coffman, Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin. . Missouri finished 26 of 59 (44.1 percent) overall from the field.

TIGER TRANSACTIONS

Missouri received a bit of a boost from the return of freshmen guards Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright, both of whom were suspended two games stemming from undisclosed violations of team rules. The duo entered the day combining for 15.1 points per game, and together scored eight on Saturday.

Missouri was still limited to nine scholarship players, though, as sophomore guard Wes Clark watched from the bench while wearing a sling to protect a dislocated right elbow incurred at South Carolina on Tuesday. He will miss the remainder of the season.

Freshman guard Tramaine Isabell, meanwhile, missed his fifth consecutive game after coach Kim Anderson described his behavior as ''unacceptable'' last month.

FREE THROWS

Mississippi State finished 26 for 33 at the line, while Missouri converted just 14 of 21 attempts.

''Any time you're in a tight ballgame, you've got to score when the clock is stopped,'' Ray said.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State returns home to face rival Mississippi on Thursday.

Missouri hits the road to play Arkansas on Wednesday.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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