Mississippi State hangs on to beat Utah, improves to 6-0

Dashawn Davis scored 18 points on six 3-pointers, including a crucial make with 2:27 remaining in regulation, to help Mississippi State earn a 52-49 victory over Utah on Wednesday in the Fort Myers Tip-Off championship in Fort Myers, Fla.

Utah (4-2) had a couple of tip-in chances at the rim in the waning seconds, but couldn’t convert. After Mississippi State (6-0) missed the front end of a one-and-one, Gabe Madsen missed a 3-pointer that would’ve tied the game. Tolu Smith also missed a free throw to give Utah a last gasp with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Rollie Worster missed the final shot that fell short of the rim. Utah finished 1 of 9 from the field to close the game.

Mississippi State shot 25.4 percent from the field but overcame that low percentage thanks to a couple of timely shots that made the difference in the championship tilt. Smith, known as the Bulldogs’ most-reliable post presence, led the way with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

In a game of numerous scoring droughts, Utah trailed at halftime but then took advantage by shooting over 40 percent early in the second half to take a narrow lead over Mississippi State. However, the Utes then went through a 1-for-14 stretch from the field that allowed the Bulldogs to prevail.

Ben Carlson and Marco Anthony led the way for the Utes with 10 points apiece as the team’s double-digit scorers. Madsen added eight points.

Utah claimed a five-point lead, its largest of the game, with 11:23 remaining in the second due to a 6-0 run. Mississippi State responded to the surge, however, with a crucial 3-pointer by Davis.

At one point in the second half, the teams were a combined 3 of 23 from the field. Each team had field goal droughts of over three minutes.

In the first half, Mississippi State shot 23.7 percent, but D.J. Jeffries played a key role in allowing his team to take a halftime lead. All 10 of Jeffries’ points came before intermission.

Utah committed 11 turnovers in the first half.

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