STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State held a major advantage in the paint Monday night and got 39 points from Roquez Johnson and Gavin Ware to defeat Mississippi Valley State 89-68.
Fred Thomas scored 17 for Mississippi State (2-0). Trivante Bloodman and Travis Daniels also finished in double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Mississippi State out-scored Mississippi Valley State 50-28 in the paint and shot 59.6 percent from the field.
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The Delta Devils (1-2) were led by Jordan Washington with 18 points. Tyler Corley scored 17.
Johnson’s 20 points tied a career-high and the senior forward was 9 of 11 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. Ware was 9-of-10 from the field and also had eight rebounds.
Mississippi State shot 69 percent in the first half to build a commanding 58-34 halftime lead. The Bulldogs were 15 of 21 at the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes, and outrebounded Mississippi Valley State 47-25.
But the Bulldogs were outscored 34-31 in the second half and had 26 turnovers.
”I was disappointed with the way we played in the second half,” said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray. ”The biggest thing was the way we turned the basketball over. I thought we gave up too many points in both halves. But we wanted to get a lot of things at the rim and there were a lot of things there for us tonight.”
The Delta Devils shot 34.3 percent in the first half and committed eight turnovers in the half.
”In the first half we didn’t believe we could play with them,” said Mississippi Valley State head coach Andre Payne. ”We believed we could play in the second half and that was the biggest difference.
”I watched film on Mississippi State from last year and the biggest different I see is they move the ball better,” he said. ”They use those guys playing inside-outside and that is what hurt us in the first half. They are more athletic than they appeared on tape and they play above the rim.”
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are now 24-5 all-time against schools from the SWAC. Mississippi State is 2-0 for the second straight season under head coach Rick Ray. The 58 first-half points was the most by Mississippi State since having 57 against Auburn on Jan. 22 of last season. The 26 turnovers were the most by Mississippi State since 2007.
Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils are now 0-5 all-time against Mississippi State. Andre Payne is in his first season with the Delta Devils after an eight-year coaching stint at Wiley College in the NAIA ranks.
Mississippi State hosts Utah State Saturday.
Mississippi Valley State travels to Tulane on Thursday.