Mississippi State and Arizona to play for 2K Sports Title
Madison Square Garden was the site of two exciting games in the 17th annual 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.
In the first semifinal game, Dee Bost scored 20 points, including a big 3-pointer with 3:16 to play, and Mississippi State beat No. 18 Texas A&M 69-60.
Mississippi State, which started the game by making 10 of its first 13 shots from the field, saw a big portion of a 22-point first-half lead disappear.
Naji Hibbert’s drive with 3:37 to play brought Texas A&M (2-1) within 60-52. Bost hit a 3-pointer 19 seconds later that started the Bulldogs’ 9-4 run that got them back in control.
Brian Bryant had 12 points for the Bulldogs and freshman Rodney Hood added 10, his third double-figure effort in as many games.
Elston Turner had 13 points for Texas A&M and David Loubeau added 11.
Mississippi State used a 15-0 run to take a 31-9 lead with 10:11 left in the first half. The Bulldogs couldn’t keep up the torrid shooting and the Aggies were able to close within single digits twice in the first half, the last time on a drive by Turner with 29 seconds left that made it 41-32.
Mississippi State finished the half 12 for 24, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and the Aggies, after starting 3 of 14 from the field, shot 42.9 percent for the half (12 of 28).
The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 7-0 run to go up 48-32.
Texas A&M was able to get within eight points but Bost started the deciding run with his second 3-pointer of the game.
Texas A&M was without junior forward Khris Middleton. The preseason All-Big 12 selection had surgery on his right knee Nov. 11 and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
This was the second game on the bench for Aggies coach Billy Kennedy, who was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s disease.
In the nightcap, Solomon Hill had 15 points to lead No. 16 Arizona to a roller coaster 81-72 victory over St. John’s.
The Wildcats (4-0) led 44-41 at halftime and were up 54-47 about 5 minutes into the second half. St. John’s (3-1), one of the least experienced teams in the country, suddenly started running and taking advantage of defensive pressure to go on a 12-2 surge to take a 66-58 lead – and the Red Storm had the crowd at Madison Square Garden behind them.
Arizona, which had started hot from 3-point range before cooling off, suddenly found its stroke behind the arc again in a 16-2 run that gave the Wildcats a 74-68 lead with 3:13 to play.
The Wildcats will play Mississippi State in the championship game on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Bulldogs (3-1) beat No. 19 Texas A&M 69-60 in the semifinals.
Kyle Fogg had 13 points for Arizona and Jesse Perry added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
St. John’s and Texas A&M will play in the consolation game at 4:30pm (ET) on Friday, followed by the title game between Arizona and Mississippi State. Both games will air on ESPN2.