By CHRIS BURROWS
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Craig Sword scored 20 points and ignited a decisive rally in the final eight minutes Friday as Mississippi State defeated Southeastern Louisiana 68-62.
The Bulldogs (6-2) snapped a 54-54 tie on a three-point play by Sword with 7:29 left and never trailed again. Sword accounted for 11 consecutive points in the crucial stretch run, hitting three baskets and assisting a Gavin Ware layup for a 63-58 lead with 3:15 left.
Antonnio Benton led SE Louisiana (3-6) with 26 points and eight rebounds. The Lions pulled within 63-62 on a jumper by Devonte Upson with 2:01 left, but missed five consecutive shots in the final two minutes.
SE Louisiana led 33-32 at halftime, but lost for the fourth consecutive game. The Lions finished 24 of 56, 42.9 percent from the field. Mississippi State was 24 of 45, 53.3 percent, but struggled at the free throw line, managing 12 of 24.
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