STARKVILLE • Mississippi State’s Humphrey Coliseum had been a house of horrors historically for No. 8 Auburn, having won only twice in its last 17 trips there.
On Saturday, though, the Tigers were able to leave with their heads held high and their undefeated record intact after an 80-68 victory over the Bulldogs in front of 8,447 in the SEC opener for both.
“Road wins are sweet,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “We’ve got a bus trip back home to Auburn but it’ll feel like we’re flying.”
All five starters for Auburn reached double figures, led by J’Von McCormick’s career-high 28 points. Samir Doughty scored 15 points, Isaac Okoro added 14 and Danjel Purifoy chipped in 11 as the Tigers improved to 13-0.
Auburn shot 41.5 percent from the floor and made 5 of 11 from behind the arc in the second half after going 0 of 11 in the first half.
In the beginning, it was MSU that carried momentum on its side. The Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run coming out of the first media timeout to go up by 10 but then hit a lull, making just 1 of 16 from the field at one point. That cold spell allowed Auburn to close on a 20-6 run in the final 8:50 of the half and take a 29-24 halftime advantage.
“We had an (18-9) lead and at one point it was like there was a lid over the basket,” said MSU guard Robert Woodard II. “When you face that kind of adversity, you just have to sit down on the defensive end and take pride in the defense and let that carry you throughout that stretch.
“I felt like we let them gain a little bit of momentum towards the end of the half.”
The Tigers extended their lead to 12 early on in the second half. State was able to cut the deficit to two on three different occasions but never could climb all the way back, falling to 9-4 on the year.
Woodard and Reggie Perry each recorded a double-double. Woodard has 12 points and 12 rebounds while Perry provided 21 points and a dozen boards. Nick Weatherspoon scored 18 points while Abdul Ado had six points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
The Bulldogs are back in action at Alabama on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.