Senior guard Tyson Carter scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, leading the host Mississippi State Bulldogs to a 77-69 victory over the FIU Panthers in Starkville, Mississippi, on Tuesday night.
It was the seventh straight year the Bulldogs have won their season opener. The Bulldogs shot 54.4 percent from the floor and held FIU to 46.7-percent accuracy.
Carter, who led the Bulldogs in three-pointers last season, shot 8-of-16 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from deep against FIU.
Mississippi State was without starting guard Nick Weatherspoon, suspended due to a violation of team rules.
In addition, 6-10 sophomore forward Reggie Perry, a preseason first-team All-American by Lindy’s, was held to one point in the first half. The Bulldogs star finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Point guard Iverson Molinari — the only freshman to start for either team — scored 14 points for the Bulldogs, who are hungry for more this season after getting upset by Liberty in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
FIU (0-1) was led by senior forward Devon Andrews, who had 16 points. Guard Trejan Jacob added 13 points for the Panthers, who went 20-14 last season and played the Bulldogs tough on Tuesday, trailing by just two points with 8:08 left.
Panthers point guard Tevin Brewer, a junior-college transfer who made his FIU debut, didn’t look to score much. He finished with three points, five assists and three turnovers.
FIU got a boost off the bench from another junior-college transfer, Eric Lovett, who had 11 points. FIU center Osasumwen Osaghae added 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
FIU took its biggest lead of the first half at 23-16 on a Jacob three-pointer with 9:39 remaining until intermission. But Mississippi State finished the first half on a 24-7 run, taking a 40-30 into the break.
The Bulldogs shot 59.3 percent from the floor in the first half. FIU shot just 42.9 percent, including 3-of-13 on three-pointers (23.1 percent).
Mississippi State scored the first basket of the second half before FIU went on a 14-2 run, tying the score 44-44. But the Bulldogs were finally able to put the Panthers away down the stretch.
—Field Level Media