Darius McGhee scored 23 points and led a barrage of 3-pointers as Liberty defeated Mississippi State 84-73 on Thursday to claim third place in the Space Coast Challenge in Melbourne, Fla.
McGhee made 7 of 11 3-point attempts as the Flames (1-1) made 19 of 39 beyond the arc. The Bulldogs (0-2) hit 4 of 10 3-point tries.
Liberty’s Elijah Cuffee added 17 points, Blake Preston scored 11, Micaiah Ibii had 10 and Chris Parker added 10 points and 10 assists.
D.J. Stewart Jr. and Tolu Smith had 20 points each to lead Mississippi State. Abdul Ado added 14 and Deivon Smith scored 10.
The Flames made their first three field-goal attempts of the second half, all from beyond the arc, and soon turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 53-42 lead.
Stewart’s jumper ended Mississippi State’s field-goal drought of 4:12 to start the half.
Stewart made another jumper to get the Bulldogs within eight before Shiloh Robinson sank a 3-pointer to give Liberty a 62-51 lead.
Stewart hit a 3-pointer and Ado converted a three-point play to get the Bulldogs within six with seven minutes remaining, but Cuffee answered with a 3-pointer.
Mississippi State scored four consecutive points before McGhee answered with a 3-pointer.
Deivon Smith made a 3-pointer, but Chris Parker answered with one of his own for an eight-point lead with 4:12 to.
Tolu Smith hit a layup before McGhee answered with another 3-pointer for a 77-68 edge with 3:32 remaining.
Cuffee started the Flames’ scoring with back-to-back 3-pointers and McGhee followed with two 3-pointers and Abii made another. That gave Liberty a 15-8 lead.
The Bulldogs scored seven straight to tie the score before Keegan McDowell broke the tie by making the Flames’ sixth 3-pointer.
Tolu Smith made two layups to pull Mississippi State even at 22 and 24. Deivon Smith’s jumper gave the Bulldogs a brief one-point lead before McGhee answered with a 3-pointer.
Cuffee and McDowell each made a 3-pointer to give the Flames the lead before Tolu Smith’s jumper with four seconds left have the Bulldogs a 41-40 halftime advantage.