NEW YORK -- A quick take on Mississippi State's 69-60 victory over No. 18 Texas A&M at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
What it means: The Bulldogs improve to 3-1 on the season, and earn a spot in Friday night's championship game of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. The Aggies (2-1) suffer their first loss of the season.
The skinny: Mississippi State played a ferocious first 10 minutes, sprinting out to a 31-9 lead midway through the first half. But then the Bulldogs seemed to relax, and the Aggies worked their way back into the game, trailing 41-32 at intermission. Eight players appeared for Mississippi State in the first half, and all eight scored.
The Bulldogs began the second half on a 7-0 run to expand the lead back to 16, and never were in serious danger from there. The Aggies finally cut it to single digits at 58-50 with 4:28 to play -- but they never got closer than that.
Team effort: Mississippi State was led by senior guards Dee Bost (20 points) and Brian Bryant (12). Freshman swingman Rodney Hood added 10, and two other players chipped in 8. Talented 6-foot-10 junior Renardo Sidney was 0-for-9 from the field, finishing with just 3 points and 6 rebounds.
Junior guard Elston Turner had 13 points to lead Texas A&M.
Hard to believe: Mississippi State shot just 10-for-30 (30 percent) in the second half, yet was never really challenged. For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs looked like the best team in the country; they were mediocre at best after that.
What's next: Mississippi State will take on No. 16 Arizona, the winner of the second semifinal, in the championship game Friday at 6:30 p.m. Texas A&M will play St. John's in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m. ESPN2 will televise both games.