STARKVILLE – Tyson Carter registered a solid all-around performance with 23 points, a career-high tying seven rebounds and a career-best six steals to spearhead Mississippi State to a 77-69 opening night victory over Florida International on Tuesday at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (1-0) have won their last seven season openers highlighted by all five during the Ben Howland era. Under Howland, State has beat its opponents by an average of 17.2 points per game to begin the season.
Mississippi State extended its SEC-leading nonconference home winning streak to 23 games which datiesback to 2016-17.
For Carter, the 23 points was his highest scoring output since dropping in a career-high 35 points versus North Dakota State in 2017-18 as a sophomore. He drained five treys which enabled him to surpass Fred Thomas (2013-14-15-16), Tony Watts (1989-90-91-92) and Marcus Grant (1992-93-94-95) into sole possession of eighth place on the program’s three-point list.
The 23 points also vaulted Carter past Chauncey Robinson (1983-84-85-86) and Doug Hartsfield (1988-89-90-91) into 43rd place on State’s all-time scoring list. He is 56 points shy of becoming the 40th player to reach 1,000 career points.
Iverson Molinar and Reggie Perry turned in 22 of their combined 27 points during the second half. Perry colleted 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting coupled with seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Molinar closed 14 points on 5-of-10 from the floor.
Molinar joins teammates Carter and Nick Weatherspoon to start as freshmen and pile up double figures in their career debuts.
D.J. Stewart Jr. and KeyShawn Feazell combined for 10 points and five rebounds off the bench and knocked down six of their nine field goal attempts.
Robert Woodard II nearly compiled a double-double with nine points and a team-leading eight rebounds whereas Abdul Ado came away with six points, four rebounds and two blocks.
For the contest, MSU hit 31-of-57 shots from the field (54.4 percent), 5-of-14 shots from 3-point range (35.7 percent) and 10-of-17 shots from the foul line (58.8 percent).
MSU held a 36-28 rebounding advantage and a 50-42 edge in paint points. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Panthers had 16 assists and 17 turnovers.
FIU (0-1) shot 28-of-60 overall (46.7 percent), 7-of-26 on three-pointers (26.9 percent) and 6-of-10 at the charity stripe (60.0 percent). The Panthers received 16 points from Devon Andrews and 13 points from Trejon Jacob.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Down 25-20 at the 7:34 mark, the Bulldogs ripped off 20 of the final 25 points to turn a five-point defict into a 10-point halftime lead.
The run was highlighted by back-to-back dunks courtesy of KeyShawn Feazell and Robert Woodard II to give State the momentum. Tyson Carter beat the halftime buzzer with a layup going coast-to-coast in the last five seconds.
State took a 40-30 lead into halftime and connected on 16 of its 27 shots during the first half.
The Panthers fired back with a 16-6 flurry of their own to knot the score at 46-46 at the 14:47 mark. Mississippi State regrouped with eight unanswered points over the next 1:31 as Carter hit on a pair of three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 54-46 edge.
FIU relied on a couple of three-pointers by Cameron Corcoran and Eric Lovett to come within 62-60 with 8:08 remaining.
State never relinquished its lead as they used four points at the free throw line and layups from Iverson Molinar and Robert Woodard II to pull back ahead 69-60 with 5:27 to go.
The Bulldogs hit on five of their last seven field goals to complete the 77-69 triumph over FIU.
Mississippi State continues its four-game homestand and hosts Sam Houston State Friday at Humphrey Coliseum. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be carried online only courtesy of SEC Network+ and the Watch ESPN platform.