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Updated: Saturday, January 31, 2004 8:02 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(11) Mississippi St 73, Auburn 68

AUBURN, Alabama (Ticker) -- Shane Power and No. 11 Mississippi State were cool under pressure.

Power made four key free throws in the final 19 seconds as the visiting Bulldogs edged Southeastern Conference rival Auburn, 73-68, for their fifth straight victory.

Timmy Bowers scored 17 points, Lawrence Roberts added 14 and Branden Vincent 13 for Mississippi State (18-1, 7-1 SEC West), which had won its prior four games by an average of 14 points and its previous two contests against the Tigers by an average of 19.5.

"We played a really good Auburn team today with their backs to the wall," Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. "For our kids to take Auburn's best shot and still come out and play as well as they did makes me happy."

The Bulldogs held just a 69-68 advantage before Power, who finished with 10 points, sank a pair of pressure free throws with 19 seconds left. Auburn's Nathan Watson missed a 3-pointer but Quinnel Brown grabbed the rebound and worked the ball back to Watson, who was fouled.

But Watson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with four seconds left, Power snatched the rebound, was fouled and made another pair from the line to ice the contest.

"Two guys fouled me right as I was going up so I don't think it looked like I was shooting," Watson said. "I was going up for a shot but they kind of held me down on the foul so I couldn't get into my shot."

Brown had a career-high 20 points and Lewis Monroe a career-best 17 to pace the Tigers (10-7, 2-5), who lost for the fourth time in five games.

Led by Roberts, who had 11 rebounds, Mississippi State controlled the glass, 41-25.

"Their inside game was just so dominant, especially when you look at their 17 offensive rebounds," Auburn coach Cliff Ellis said. "This was the first time I have seen Lawrence Roberts, and he is everything they talk about. He will play at the next level."

The Bulldogs committed 15 turnovers and had just nine assists, while the Tigers had 16 assists and 11 giveaways.

The Tigers jumped out to an early 9-2 lead but the Bulldogs quickly responded, going on a 25-10 run to take a 27-19 advantage on a 3-pointer by Bowers with 9:01 left in the half.

"I think this was a tough game mentally," Bowers said. "When you are on the road, you have to make the plays and get the win."

Auburn fought back to take a 37-34 edge before Mississippi State scored the last four points of the half, taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Vincent with 39 seconds left.


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