BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Tari Eason scored 23 points to spark LSU to a 69-65 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Eason came off the bench to score 10 points in the final 7:19 of the first half to propel LSU to a 37-22 lead at intermission. Eason opened his scoring with a dunk that gave the Tigers a 16-11 lead and capped it with a 3-pointer for a 35-22 advantage.
Iverson Molinar keyed a second-half comeback for Mississippi State. He had 10 points in a 21-8 run and his 3-pointer pulled the Bulldogs even at 43 with 11:41 left in the game. Shakeel Moore's 3-pointer gave MSU a 48-45 lead — its first since the 13:46 mark of the first half — with 9:18 remaining.
Pinson answered with a layup and two free throws as the Tigers regained the lead and Eason buried a 3 to push the advantage to 52-48 with 7:22 to go. Tolu Smith scored in the paint for the Bulldogs, but Shareef O'Neal had a rebound basket, Eason added two free throws and a dunk and LSU kept a two-possession lead after going up 58-50 with 5:14 remaining.
Eason sank 8 of 14 shots with three 3-pointers for LSU (18-7, 6-6 Southeastern Conference). He added six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Xavier Pinson had 12 points and Darius Days scored 10, but the pair combined to make just 6 of 22 shots.
Molinar sank all 10 of his free throws and scored 26 to pace Mississippi State (14-10, 5-6). Molinar, who came in leading the SEC in free-throw percentage at 88.6%, has scored in double figures in every game. Molinar joins Grand Canyon’s Jovan Blacksher Jr., E.J. Liddell of Ohio State and Ohio’s Mark Sears as the only other players to accomplish the feat this season.
Tolu Smith had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, who are still looking for their first road win of the season. Garrison Brooks totaled 11 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the campaign.
LSU stays home to host Georgia on Wednesday. Mississippi State travels to play Alabama on Wednesday.
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