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February 27, 2008Charles Rhodes had a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds to lead Mississippi State to an 89-78 victory over Auburn on Wednesday night and a share of the Southeastern Conference's Western Division title for the second straight season.
The Bulldogs have now won 13 of their last 15 games against the Tigers, including eight in a row at home.
Auburn (14-12, 4-9 SEC) never threatened Mississippi State (19-8, 10-3) in the second half and shot only 38 percent from the field against the nation's second-ranked team defense.
Rhodes was 10-for-13 from the field and has scored 20 points or more in three of his last four games. The double-double is his eighth this season and fourteenth of his career.
Thanks to Arkansas' 56-53 loss at Alabama on Wednesday, the Bulldogs now have a three-game lead in the SEC West with three games to go in the regular season. The Razorbacks still could catch them, though they'll need the Bulldogs to lose their last three games.
Jamont Gordon had 20 points and Jarvis Varnado had 14 to go with his eight rebounds and four blocks. Ben Hansbrough and Barry Stewart both scored 11 points.
Quan Prowell paced the Tigers with a career-high 31 points on 11-for-21 shooting. Rasheem Barrett had 13 points and Lucas Hargrove had 11. DeWayne Reed also scored 10 points for the Tigers.
MSU used a 15-4 run, including three 3-pointers by Gordon, to gain an early advantage over the Tigers. Auburn responded with a 13-2 run to take a 29-26 lead with 7:08 remaining in the first half, but the Bulldogs finished the half on a 16-6 run and entered halftime with a 42-35 lead.
Auburn opened the second half by pulling to within two points, but the Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and steadily pulled away.