Tulane holds off Mississippi State 59-54
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — On a day when everyone else was struggling to make shots, Jay Hook felt good from the start.
Hook scored 17 points and hit five 3-pointers, including one from NBA range off a pass from Louis Dabney with 29 seconds left as Tulane beat Mississippi State 59-54 on Saturday afternoon.
With the shot clock winding down on the pivotal possession, Dabney drove toward the basket from the top of the key and drew two defenders to him before kicking the ball back to Hook.
Hook’s shot hit nothing but net, giving the Green Wave a five-point lead.
“I knew it was going in,” Hook said. “As soon as the first one went in, I thought I was going to have a good shooting day.”
Jonathan Stark added 12 points and Dabney finished with nine points, four assists and two steals as Tulane won for only the third time in 11 games against teams from a power-five conference in coach Ed Conroy’s five-year tenure.
Travis Daniels led Mississippi State with 13 points and nine rebounds but scored only five after halftime. Gavin Ware chipped in with 11 points, and Roquez Johnson added 10.
Mississippi State (5-2) tied the score at 54 with 2:36 left, then went scoreless the rest of the way, missing three free throws and five shots from the field. The Bulldogs lost for the 18th consecutive time on an opponent’s home court.
“When we play somebody (on the road), we have to be locked in,” Ware said. “It was kind of tough not seeing shots fall for us, but we can’t let that hinder us on the defensive end. That was just a big letdown today.”
Tulane (7-1), which has won seven in a row since an opening-night home loss to Wake Forest, set up Hook’s final basket exactly the way coach Ed Conroy wanted. The ball was in Dabney’s hands.
“It was a simple play, but a lot goes into it,” Conroy said. “Lou Dabney had the toughness to make a great decision. He beat his man, made the pass back to Jay, and Jay was ready to step up and knock it down.”
Mississippi State tried to answer, but Stark, a 6-0 point guard, blocked Trivante Bloodman’s shot at the rim.
Tulane led for the first 13:50 of the second half, going up by as many as seven, 41-34, on Hook’s pull-up 3-pointer with 14:16 left. The Green Wave led by seven again, 45-38, on a Cameron Reynolds’ layup before going scoreless for more than five minutes.
The Bulldogs drew within 45-44 on a putback from Fred Thomas and finally went ahead, 49-48, on Thomas’ 3-pointer with 6:06 left. The lead changed hands three times in the next three minutes before Mississippi State went cold. Its last points came on a driving layup by Bloodman with 2:36 left.
“The big difference was we didn’t finish,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. “We had six consecutive stops and got the ball in the paint on four of those opportunities and didn’t convert them.”
Hook made 5 of 8 3-pointers while Mississippi State was 2 of 13 from behind the arc.
Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, with both connecting on 10 field goals and going 5 of 7 from the free throw line. Tulane scored the last five points while holding Mississippi State scoreless for the last 3:25 to go up 28-26 at the break.
Tulane: The Green Wave is 3-8 against power five conference teams but 2-0 against the SEC under Conroy. It won at Alabama in 2012-13.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs, picked last in the SEC in the preseason, have lost two in a row after winning their first five.
TOTAL TEAM EFFORT
Tulane outrebounded the bigger Bulldogs 37-32, getting between three and six rebounds from seven players.
Mississippi State has made more than four 3-pointers in a game only once and is shooting 27.6 percent for the year from long range.
Tulane: The Wave has a 10-day break for final exams before playing host to Savannah State on Dec. 16.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will get another chance to end their road losing skid at Oregon State on Dec. 13.