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Mississippi St. tops No. 22 Arkansas 78-75

January 3, 2018

Mississippi State guard Nick Weatherspoon (0) attempts a fall away jumper past an Arkansas defender during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (AP Photo by Rogelio V. Solis)

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Junior Quinndary Weatherspoon joined Mississippi State a couple of years ago and was a big reason for the program’s push toward respectability in the Southeastern Conference.

His brother Nick Weatherspoon came in this year, and now the Bulldogs look poised for even better things.

The Weatherspoons both scored 22 points in Mississippi State’s come-from-behind 78-75 win over No. 22 Arkansas on Tuesday night. The victory snapped the program’s 18-game losing streak to ranked opponents.

“It means we’re finally getting over the hump that we’ve been trying to get over the past two years I’ve been here,” Quinndary Weatherspoon said. “It’s just good we can pull those games out.”

Quinndary Weatherspoon added seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Nick Weatherspoon scored 13 of his 22 points in the second half and shot 7 of 10 from the field.

Mississippi State (13-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) built off its best start during non-conference play in years, rallying for the win after trailing for much of the second half. Abdul Ado added eight points and nine rebounds and hit a crucial putback after grabbing an offensive rebound with 39 seconds remaining.

It gave the Bulldogs a 77-75 lead and they were able to hold on for their first win over a ranked opponent since beating Arizona 67-57 in 2011.

“We never gave up,” Nick Weatherspoon said. “Every time we were in a timeout, Coach (Ben) Howland told us not to give up.”

Arkansas (11-3, 1-1) was playing its first game in the AP’s national rankings since March 2015. The Razorbacks came in averaging more than 90 points per game, but Mississippi State slowed the pace and took a 32-28 lead into halftime.

Arkansas rallied to take the lead just after halftime and held the advantage for the majority of the second half. The Razorbacks shot 64.5 percent in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Bulldogs, who grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 16 points off them.

Mississippi State also enjoyed a huge advantage at the free-throw line, shooting 40 attempts to Arkansas’ 12.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said the free-throw disparity was difficult to overcome, but it wasn’t the only reason the Razorbacks lost the game.

“Mississippi State got some timely offensive rebounds and made some plays and we had some miscues going down the stretch,” Anderson said. “We’ve been better at that, and I thought we’d be better at it tonight, but it didn’t happen. A couple turnovers took place.

“But credit to Mississippi State, they did what they’re supposed to do.”

Daryl Macon led Arkansas with 24 points while Daniel Gafford added 17. Macon shot 9 of 12 from the field, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Arkansas had a few chances to pull ahead during the final minutes, but was called for an offensive foul and a travelling violation on crucial possessions.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: It’s undeniably a big win for the Bulldogs, who look like they could be a factor in the Southeastern Conference race. The Bulldogs won despite shooting just 4 of 21 from 3-point range. Now Mississippi State must go on the road to face rival Ole Miss on Saturday.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks looked like they had this game under control a few times during the second half, but they could never put away Mississippi State. Arkansas has another tough game this weekend against Auburn, which just beat Tennessee.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State travels to face Ole Miss on Saturday.

Arkansas travels to face Auburn on Saturday.

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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 .

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