McGhee hits career-high 7 3s, Liberty beats Mississippi St

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, November 26, 2020

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MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Darius McGhee scored 23 points and made a career-high seven 3-pointers, Elijah Cuffee added 17 points and five 3s, and Liberty set a program record with 19 makes from distance in an 84-73 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night in the consolation game of the Space Coast Challenge.

It’s the first time Mississippi State has started a season 0-2 since 1967. Coach Ben Howland will have to wait until Monday for a chance to win his 500th career game.

Chris Parker — a graduate transfer from D-II Henderson State — had 10 points and 10 assists and Micaiah Abii added 10 points for Liberty (1-1), which is coming off back-to-back conference tournament titles for the first time in program history. Abii scored 19 on Wednesday for Liberty’s most points in a freshman debut since Seth Curry (23 points) in 2008.

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Liberty has defeated six Power Five opponents under coach Ritchie McKay, including Mississippi State in the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

D.J. Stewart Jr. and Tolu Smith each scored 20 points for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs outrebounded Liberty 29-17, but only attempted 10 3-pointers compared to Liberty’s 39.

Mississippi State led 41-40 at halftime — a day after scoring 42 total points in an 11-point loss to Clemson. Smith had 14 points and five rebounds in the half and Stewart scored 12.