STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Gavin Ware had 15 points and 15 rebounds for his third career double-double as Mississippi State defeated Prairie View A&M 71-56 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Mississippi State had two other players in double figures as well, as I.J. Ready added 14 points in his first collegiate game and Roquez Johnson finished with 11.
Mississippi State opened 8-of-12 from the floor in the first seven minutes to build a double-digit lead. But the Bulldogs then missed seven straight shots and Prairie View cut the lead to 22-17 with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. However, Mississippi State extended the lead 38-28 at the half.
Prairie View did cut the lead to 62-55 with 3:50 left in the game but that was as close as the Panthers would get. Montrael Scott led Prairie View A&M with 15 points. Louis Munks added 13 for Prairie View and Tre Hagood chipped in 11 points.
''I know the score doesn't indicate it but I thought we actually played better in the second half,'' said MSU head coach Rick Ray. ''I think we held them to 30 percent from the field in the second half and really did a good job on defensive rebounds. One thing I was concerned about is (Prairie View) takes a lot of threes. When you take a lot of threes, there tends to be a lot of long defensive rebounds. So I wanted to make sure we were able to chase those down.''
Ready was 6-of-10 from the floor and also had three assists and three steals. Andre Applewhite finished with nine points and nine boards.
''It was great,'' said Ready. ''Everything I've been doing since I got here in June, I went out there and put it on the floor with our team. I don't care about anything but winning and that is all I want to do.''
Mississippi State played without sophomore Fred Thomas, who served a one-game suspension by the NCAA. Thomas' suspension was due to a violation of the NCAA outside competition rule related to a summer all-star game.
MSU shot 42.2 percent and out-rebounded Prairie View 51-27. However, MSU committed 21 turnovers, including 13 in the second half. Prairie View had 19 turnovers.
''We still had too many turnovers and that is something we talked about again,'' said Ray. ''But I think we ended up a plus-24 in rebounding and last year, we were last in the SEC in rebounding and also last in assist-to-turnover ratio. I thought we did a good job addressing one issue - rebounding. Now we got to do a better job with our turnovers.''
Mississippi State returns to action Thursday when Kennesaw State visits Humphrey Coliseum.