Smith, Molinar lift Mississippi State past Vandy 74-69
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Tolu Smith scored 22 points, Iverson Molinar added 20 and Mississippi State held off Vanderbilt 74-69 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to hold off the Commodores and Scotty Pippen Jr., who had 32 points.
Molinar set a school record by scoring in double figures in 29 straight games for the Bulldogs (17-12, 8-8 Southeastern Conference). Tony Watts scored in all 28 games for MSU in 1991-92. Smith matched his season high.
In adding to Pippen’s fourth 30-point game and fifth straight game with 20 points, Jordan Wright and Quentin Millora-Brown scored 10 points apiece for Vanderbilt (14-14, 6-10).
Vanderbilt erased an eight-point deficit in the first half by making nine straight shots before a halftime heave missed, leaving the Commodores up 32-30.
Andersson Garcia had six points in an 11-0 run that erased Vanderbilt’s last lead and the Bulldogs turned that into a 16-2 surge for the biggest lead of the game at 57-46 with 8:41 to play.
Pippen hit three 3-pointers and the Commodores three times got the deficit to one possession. Wright’s offensive putback made it 71-69 but Molinar made two clutch free throws with 11.7 seconds to play came after Vandy’s last miss and then the Commodores lost the ball.
Mississippi State was 19 of 24 from the foul line in the second half, outscoring Vanderbilt by 10.
MSU shot 50% but was just 1 of 6 on 3-pointers, compared to the Commodores 9 of 29.
Vanderbilt is home against Florida on Tuesday and closes the regular season at Ole Miss on Saturday. No. 3 Auburn visits Mississippi State on Wednesday before the Bulldogs finish at Texas A&M on Saturday.
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