After trailing by 19 points in the first half, Clemson rallied to cut the deficit to five points twice in the second half Saturday. However, Mississippi State kept making three-pointers, 19 to be exact, as the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half for an 82-71 victory at the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J.
Aamir Simms led the Tigers with a career-high 23 points, while center Elijah Thomas added 18 points and 8 rebounds.
However, the difference in the game was Mississippi State’s school record 19 three-pointers, including 8 from Lamar Peters, who scored a career-high 28 points. Peters was 8-of-11 from behind the arc, while Quinndary Weatherspoon added 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
While Mississippi State (8-1) made 19 threes, the Tigers struggled behind the arc, especially with leading scorer Marcquise Reed sitting on the bench nursing a knee injury.
The Tigers (6-3) were just 6-of-27 from behind the arc. Shelton Mitchell, who had just 9 points, was 1-for-8 from 3-point range and 3-of-16 overall from the field. David Skara scored 12 points and was 5-of-6 from the field.
Clemson cut the Bulldogs’ lead to five points twice in the second half at 58-53 on a Clyde Trapp layup with 13:11 to play. Then at 65-60 on a put-back shot from Thomas with 9:15 to go.
However, the Bulldogs made two 3-pointers to go back up 11 points, 71-60, with 8:12 to play and never looked back.
Mississippi State led 42-34 at the break thanks in large part to making 10-of-18 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs led by as many as 19 points, 38-19, in the first half.
Clemson missed its first 12 three-point attempts, but Mitchell buried the first three of the game with 3:29 to play in the half and then Simms made two to close out the half, including one that bounced in with six seconds to play to cut the lead to 42-34.
The Tigers finished the first half 3-for-3 from behind the arc in the last 3:29 and outscored Mississippi State 15-4 to get back in the game.
Clemson will take the next week off before returning home next Saturday to play Radford at 3 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.