D.J. Jeffries made three of four free throws in the final 11 seconds and grabbed 12 rebounds to help seal the win for Mississippi State (14-6, 3-4 SEC). Shakeel Moore scored 12 points and Tolu Smith added nine points and eight rebounds.
Saturday’s win was the Bulldogs’ second over a top-10 team, after beating Tennessee earlier in the season. It’s the first time they have defeated multiple top-10 teams in a season since 2001-02, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
It’s also the fifth win by an unranked SEC team against an AP top-10 opponent in conference play this season, tied for the second most in the SEC over the past 15 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“We didn’t hardly practice on Thursday,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Jans said. “We just felt like we were going to try to ease up a little bit and Friday wasn’t quite as long with as much physicality segments to it. We tried to sell them on being fresher for the game. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I felt like we played the way we have to play to win the game.”
It was Hubbard’s first start of the season and the first start of his collegiate career. He was 7-of-16 from the field and added three rebounds. He is currently the leading freshman scorer in the SEC at 14.9 points a game.
Hubbard said his approach didn’t really change in his first career start.
“Coach Jans always tells us the starting lineups are just the starters for the game,” he said. “We have great depth and we know a lot of people on our team are going to play. Only difference is, I am getting my name called first. So I still had that same mentality and nothing is going to change as far as my mindset or anything like that.”
Tied at halftime, Auburn trailed for much of the second half until a Tre Donaldson three-point play gave the Tigers a 46-45 advantage with 7:51 remaining. But that would be the last lead of the game for Auburn.
Matthews rebounded his missed free throw and scored to give Mississippi State a 53-49 lead with 3:50 left in the second half. Auburn cut the lead to 55-54, only to see a Hubbard 3-pointer stretch the lead to 58-54 with 1:37 left. The Bulldogs then made five of six free throws in the final 32.6 seconds to secure the victory.
For the game, Auburn was held to 34% shooting from the field, including 25% (6 of 24) from 3-point range. Auburn was 14-of-16 at the foul line and had 14 turnovers.
After a 5-0 start in the SEC and an appearance in the top-10 rankings, Auburn has dropped two straight in league play. The Tigers lost at rival Alabama on Wednesday.
“Mississippi State played great defense the whole game,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We played good defense in the first half, but in the second half, while we were better offensively, we just let them get so many second-chance points. I thought we did a good job of defending Tolu Smith. If you had told me we would come here and we could hold Tolu to just six shots, I would tell you we have a fighting chance. And we did.”
Mississippi State shot 44% for the game and went just 9-of-18 at the foul line. The Bulldogs had 14 turnovers and outrebounded the Tigers 45-30, including 14 offensive boards.
The teams were locked in a defensive struggle in the first half. Mississippi State took a 15-10 lead on a dunk by Matthews with 7:57 left in the half. Neither team scored in the final 2:45 and they entered halftime tied 21-21.
Auburn shot 28% in the first half and went 2-of-10 on 3-pointers. Mississippi State shot 32% in the first half and was 1-of-12 on 3’s. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Tigers 27-14, including 11 offensive boards.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.