By Wes Johnson
TROY, Ala. – The beginning of the Rick Ray era at Mississippi State started on a sour note Friday as Troy’s Emil Jones drained a 16-footer with 1.6 seconds left to break a tie and the Trojans defeated the Bulldogs 56-53, in the first game at the new $40 million Trojan Arena.
Mississippi State (0-1) looked out of sync and rattled in front of the record crowd of 5,120. The Bulldogs shot 42 percent for the game, but a slow first half put the team in a hole early. Behind Tevin Calhoun’s four 3-pointers, Troy (1-0) built a 10-point halftime lead, 32-22.
The Bulldogs tied the game on a pair of Jalen Steele free throws with 1:08 remaining.
Gavin Ware came down with a rebound after a Troy miss, but a traveling call on Craig Sword would give Troy the ball. Jones put Troy ahead with 1.6 seconds remaining.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed with the loss today. In the first half we didn’t show any kind of discipline on the offensive end. That’s disappointing,” Ray said. “I think for this team to be successful, we’ve got to grind out some possessions.
“We can’t make excuses, we’ve got to come out and get victories.”
Steele led all scorers with 16 points and finished with seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs were shorthanded coming in to the contest as sophomore forward Roquez Johnson did not make the trip. With DeAndre Applewhite and Jacoby Davis out for the season, Mississippi State used just eight players.
“As far as being discombobulated, probably the crowd and guys playing their first Division I basketball game got to them a little bit,” Ray said.
MSU women win
STARKVILLE – The Mississippi State women opened their season with a 72-66 victory over Houston for new coach Vic Schaefer.