STARKVILLE - Facing an 11-point deficit at halftime, eight-ranked Mississippi State rallied in the second half to defeat No. 16 Texas A&M, 69-57, at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday and earned its second-straight ranked win.
"Wow, that was a heck of a game," said head coach Vic Schaefer. "I have so much respect for Texas A&M, Coach Gary Blair, the staff and the players. I'm going to tell you all; Myah Taylor was the best player in the gym today. I am so proud of her, to see her go out and play in the way she did. Here's the thing, we gave up 37 points in the first half but held them to 20 in the second. We outscored them 26-8 in the fourth quarter. That's an amazing statistic in the Southeastern Conference against a top-20 team. I thought we were relentless. I thought that you could not kill our will tonight. Just to do what we did in that environment today, when our first half was obviously not our best half, we did not play well, but we found to get back in it."
The Bulldogs (22-3, 10-1 SEC) struggled to get going offensively in the first half and got outscored in the second stanza, 26-14. The Aggies (18-5, 6-4 SEC) shot better than 70 percent from the field in the quarter and had all the momentum going into halftime, but Mississippi State wouldn't give up.
After going back and forth to begin the third quarter, State ended the game on a 33-10 run during the final 14 minutes of play to complete the comeback. It was the first time since beating Iowa State on Dec. 3, 2016, that MSU overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to win.
Myah Taylor went off in the second half, scoring all 16 of her points on 7-of-8 shooting to go along with six assists and three steals to rally the squad. Rickea Jackson dropped her fifth 20-point performance of SEC play and notched her second double-double of the season with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Jessika Carter rounded out the double-digit scorers, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with seven boards and a block. She helped State outscore the Aggies 44-32 in the paint.
On defense, MSU forced 18 turnovers behind eight steals and four blocks and turned that into 22 points of offense. Although Texas A&M shot 40 percent from the field for the game, but the Bulldogs held the Aggies to just 27-percent shooting in the second half.
It was a defensive battle between both teams out the gate. Both squads shot below 40 percent from the field, and State forced six turnovers in the first quarter. Jackson led the charge offensively, scoring eight points to give MSU a 12-11 lead at the end of the period.
Texas A&M had the hot hand in the second stanza, shooting a blazing 71 percent from the floor. During one stretch, the Aggies shot 10-of-12 from the field and went on a 12-2 run to take a 37-26 lead going into halftime.
Both squads went back and forth to begin the third period, but the Bulldogs held Texas A&M to just one basket in the final four minutes of the quarter. With the help of three huge buckets by Taylor, MSU ended the stanza on a 7-2 run to cut the Aggies' lead to 49-43 and build some momentum going into the final frame.
Mississippi State came out on fire in the fourth quarter, going on a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the 8:29 mark in the second quarter. The quick spurt was capped by a put-back bucket from Jackson, giving MSU a 52-49 lead and forcing Texas A&M to call a timeout. The Aggies would cut it to a one-point game, but the Bulldogs would not relinquish their lead, ending the game on a 15-4 run.
Up next, State hits the road for its third top-25 matchup in a row, as the Bulldogs travel to take on No. 15 Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum for a 4 p.m. tip next Sunday. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and can be streamed on the MSU Radio Network.