STARKVILLE – Colin Borchert scored 23 points and Gavin Ware posted a double-double as Mississippi State opened the new men’s basketball season with an 86-57 exhibition win against Auburn-Montgomery Sunday at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU scored the game’s first five points and never trailed in the contest. The Bulldogs shot 51.7 percent from the floor and used its significant height advantage to post a plus-11 rebounding advantage.
“It was good to finally get to play against another opponent,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “You see all of the things that you have to work on between now and Friday. We played a lot of combinations and saw a lot of positive things.”
In his MSU point guard debut, IJ Ready had a solid start. In 22 minutes of play, Ready scored only two points but was credited with four assists and two steals, with only one turnover.
“(Ready) brings a lot of energy to our team,” MSU sophomore guard Craig Sword said. “He comes out every day ready to practice or play. He does a great job of making everyone better and helping us get settled down in our offense.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs shot better than 50 percent each half and hit 42.9 percent from 3-point range. Borchert led the offensive attack with an 8-for-9 night from the field and a 5-of-6 night from the free throw line.
“It is all about confidence,” said Borchert, a senior forward. “Last year, I missed some shots early and the confidence level went from around 100 all the down to like a 32. It happened to some other guys on the team as well.
“We just kept going to the gym and working on. Once the shots start falling, you get your confidence back.”
Ware, a sophomore from Starkville, scored 10 points and collected a game-high 12 rebounds for the double-double.
The Bulldogs used defensive pressure to key a 12-2 run early. A free throw by Ware capped the run and pushed the MSU advantage to 21-10 with 8:49 left in the half. AUM hit a couple of 3-point baskets to fight back within 12.
Leading 33-19, MSU ended the half with an 11-3 run for a 44-22 halftime advantage.
“I.J. really allows us to do some more things on the offensive end,” Ray said. “Last year, (Sword) would get wrapped up in his responsibilities (while playing point), especially in in-bounds situations. The only time there is a major difference between the 1 and 2 positions on the floor is on made baskets.
“In other situations, we want (Sword) to do a lot of the things he did last year because he is such an explosive player.”
The Bulldogs continued the strong offensive play to start the second half, as the lead was quickly pushed out to 56-24 at the first media timeout of the second half.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 30 of 58 shots from the field (51.7 percent), 6 of 14 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 20 of 25 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). The Warhawks hit 23 of 63 shots from the field (36.5 percent), 5 of 19 shots from 3-point range (26.3 percent) and 6 of 11 shots from the foul line (54.5 percent).
MSU held a 42-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 18 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Warhawks had 11 assists and 20 turnovers.
Sword and Dre Applewhite each added 12 points for the Bulldogs.
Auburn-Montgomery received 12 points from LeShaun Murphy.
MSU will usher its second season under Ray when the Bulldogs play host to Prairie View A&M. Game time is set for 7 p.m. Friday in the Humphrey Coliseum.
(From MSU Media Relations)