By Jake Kreinberg
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword scored 22 points apiece to help Mississippi State end a two-game losing streak with a 77-74 win over Missouri on Saturday.
Despite holding an 11-point halftime lead, the Bulldogs (12-13, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) needed to convert all six of their free throws in the final minute to hang on against the Tigers, who lost their 11th consecutive game since winning their SEC opener against LSU on Jan. 8.
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.
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 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 to give the Bulldogs the lead for good despite the pressurized final 60 seconds.
The Tigers 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.
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, but only 14 of 21 from the free throw line.
Mississippi State returns home to face rival Mississippi on Thursday.
Missouri hits the road to play Arkansas on Wednesday.
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