Bennett’s 39 lifts South Alabama past MSU, 71-67

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP)—Demetric Bennett scored a career-high 39 points and hit two free throws with 9 seconds left, lifting South Alabama to a 71-67 win over Mississippi State Saturday night in the Coors Classic.

The Jaguars (7-3), who trailed by 13 points midway through the second half, were leading by two when Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon missed a shot with 15 seconds left.

Charles Rhodes grabbed the rebound and drew a foul but missed both free throw attempts. That forced the Bulldogs (5-5) to quickly foul Bennett, who made just about everything including the decisive free throws.

He hit 14 of 17 shots and all six 3-point attempts while scoring South Alabama’s first 20 points. Bennett’s previous high was 29 points against North Texas last season.

The Jaguars were 10-of-17 from 3-point range while holding the Bulldogs to 38 percent shooting.

Mississippi State had won the first 10 meetings in the series.

The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 57-44 midway through the second half, but Daon Merritt started an 18-1 run with two straight baskets. Merritt’s 3-pointer and a basket by Domonic Tilford gave the Jaguars a 62-58 lead with 3:59 left.

Merritt had 14 points and hit four 3s for the Jaguars.

Phil Turner led Mississippi State with 17 points while Ben Hansbrough had 16 and Charles Rhodes 10.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Mississippi St.
J. Varnado J. Varnado
4-5,  9 Pts
10 Rebs, 1 Assists
 South Alabama
D. Bennett D. Bennett
14-17,  39 Pts
8 Rebs, 1 Assists

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Saturday, Dec 15