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January 29, 2010

State falls at Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State surrendered an 11-point lead in the second half, falling to Arkansas 67-62 in a Southeastern Conference men's basketball game played Thursday night in Bud Walton Arena.

After starting league play three straight wins, the Bulldogs dropped their second straight league decision. M-State is now 15-5 and 3-2 league play, while Arkansas improved to 9-11 and 2-3. The Bulldogs also find themselves with back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

For a third straight contest, the Bulldogs were miserable from 3-point range. Prior to that stretch, the Bulldogs were averaging nine made 3's per contest. On Thursday night, the Bulldogs were 5-of-26 from long distance, after only converting on 2-of-18 in Saturday's loss at Alabama.

Still, the Bulldogs scored the game's first four points and held a sizable lead for most of the contest. Arkansas had a nine-minute stretch in the first half without a made field goal. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs did not do much better from the field.

In the opening half, each team shot around 25 percent, with MSU hitting on 10-of-40 shot attempts, and Arkansas convering on 6-of-25 tries.

Despite the struggles, the rebounding advantage allowed MSU to take more shots and build as much as a 12-point lead. The Bulldogs led 29-21 at the intermission.

MSU still held a double digit lead after Barry Stewart rammed home a 3-point basket with 15:30 remaining. That trey sent the Bulldogs on top, 37-27.

The Bulldogs opened an 11-point advantage, at 49-38 with 9:55 remaining. Kodi Augustus gave MSU a 51-41 push with two free throws at the 8:11 mark.

Courtney Fortson then took matters into his own hands for the Razorbacks. Fortson scored nine of his team's points during a 14-4 run. The Bulldogs aided the cause with a trio of turnovers. A Stefan Welsh layup with 5:02 remaining capped the run and tied the teams 55-55.

A dunk by Ravern Johnson, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points, placed the Bulldogs back on top at 57-55 with 3:28 left. The Hogs took their first lead of the contest on a steal by Marshawn Powell and successful free throw by Fortson on the offensive end. That conversion gave UA a 58-57 lead with 2:57 remaining.

The Bulldogs failed to recover as they managed only three field goals in the final 5:46 of the contest.

Fortson finished with a season-high 35 points for the Razorbacks, including a 9-of-17 night from the field and 14-of-18 night from the foul stripe.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 67 shots from the field (31.3 percent), 5 of 26 shots from 3-point range (19.2 percent) and 15 of 18 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent). The Razorbacks hit 19 of 52 shots from the field (36.5 percent), 7 of 21 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 22 of 33 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).

MSU held a 44-37 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had eight assists and 15 turnovers, while the Razorbacks had 10 assists and 11 turnovers.

Behind Johnson, the Bulldogs had two others in double figures. Stewart had 11 points, while Augustus had the game's only double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jarvis Varnado had 14 rebounds but only added two blocked shots to his league-leading total.

Stewart also set a new Bulldog standard by recording the most career minutes ever played for the Maroon and White. The senior guard has now logged 3,867 minutes - 16 more than former record holder Jeff Malone.

Walsh added 12 points for the Razorbacks, while Powell had a team-high nine rebounds, all on the defensive end.

The Bulldogs host LSU in a 12:30 p.m. tip Saturday at the Humphrey Coliseum. That contest will be televised regionally by The SEC Network.



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