NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Timmy Bowers and Mississippi State cooled off Louisiana State and moved a step closer to their second straight Southeastern Conference tournament title.
Bowers scored a season-high 26 points as the 25th-ranked Bulldogs coasted to a 76-61 semifinal victory and snapped the Tigers' seven-game winning streak.
Michal Ignerski added 15 points and Mario Austin 14 for Mississippi State (21-8), which will play Kentucky in Sunday's final at the Superdome.
"For our team to come into their home atmosphere, even though I heard more 'Dogs than I did Tigers, is a terrific win," said Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury, who earned his 100th coaching victory. "I just think our team was the toughest out on the court all afternoon."
The Bulldogs are trying to become the first team to repeat as tournament champions since Kentucky won three straight crowns from 1997-99.
"The opportunity to get this far in the tournament is very special and to make it two years in a row is not easy," Stansbury added. "They came into this with the right focus and the right attitude."
Antonio Hudson, Collis Temple III and Jaime Lloreda each had 11 points for the Tigers (21-10), who made their claim for an at-large in the NCAA Tournament berth by knocking off seventh-ranked Florida on Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals.
"I am extremely proud of this basketball team and what they have accomplished this year," LSU coach John Brady said. "I know we will be playing Thursday or Friday or Saturday of (next) week."
Bowers made 6-of-9 shots from 3-point range and the Bulldogs were 10-of-19 from beyond the arc overall.
"Today I wanted to be more aggressive and I made some shots," Bowers said. "I felt good about myself and that helped me out."
Derrick Zimmerman had 11 assists, and needs six to tie the all-time school record of 510 held by Al Perry.
A layup by Lloreda moved LSU within three points at 45-42 with 16 minutes left. Mississippi State responded with a 10-0 run that included 3-pointers by Austin and Bowers.
A layup by Branden Vincent and two free throws by Austin capped the run and the Tigers got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Mississippi State built a 26-12 lead midway through the first half on a basket by Ignerski with 8:52 left. The Tigers fought back, closing the first half with a 16-4 run and cutting the deficit to 34-32 on a jumper by Temple one second before intermission.
LSU's Ronald Dupree was held to nine points, ending his string of scoring in double digits at 29 games.