COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Sophie Cunningham scored 18 of her 22 points in the final 15 minutes and No. 24 Missouri held off No. 7 Mississippi State 66-54 on Thursday night.
Missouri (15-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) scored on 11 of 14 first-quarter possessions to take a 23-11 lead en route to its first victory over a ranked opponent this season.
The Tigers made 10 of 15 field-goal attempts in the first quarter, and three of those misses were collected for offensive rebounds and turned into second-chance points.
Victoria Vivians led Mississippi State (16-2, 3-1) with 19 points. The Bulldogs had won 11 straight.
Jordan Frericks added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Missouri.
Mississippi State is the highest-ranked opponent Missouri has beaten since it upset then-No. 4 Baylor on Jan. 4, 2006.
Missouri's hot start was a stark contrast compared to its two other games this season against ranked opponents. The Tigers trailed Tennessee 24-11 less than 10 minutes into a 71-55 loss on Jan. 4 and trailed South Carolina 25-10 just more than 13 minutes into Sunday's 83-58 loss.
The Tigers' lead swelled to 33-13 after Frericks' put-back with 4:59 remaining in the second quarter, causing Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer to call a timeout. The Bulldogs closed the half on a 12-3 run. They trimmed their deficit to 38-31 on Teaira McCowan's basket with 7:11 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs never got any closer.
Mississippi State: Vivians reached double figures scoring for the 17th straight game, but she was 6 for 18 from the field. She entered Thursday leading the SEC in scoring at 17.9 points per game. The Bulldogs entered Thursday ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 52.2 points per game. Missouri became Mississippi State's seventh opponent this season to score at least 60 points.
Missouri: Three of the Tigers' first four SEC games have come against ranked opponents. Missouri beat Mississippi State for the first time in five tries.
The Tigers were concerned about Mississippi State's ability to force turnovers. The Bulldogs entered Thursday forcing 24.5 turnovers per game, and Missouri was coming off a 20-turnover outing against South Carolina. The Tigers had 19 turnovers against the Bulldogs, with several coming on offensive fouls. Every Mississippi State opponent this season has turned the ball over at least 17 times.
No. 7 Mississippi State hosts Mississippi on Sunday.
No. 24 Missouri visits Arkansas on Sunday.