Recapping MSU’s 78-58 win over FAU on Saturday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
• The buzz: In its home opener, MSU (1-1) pushed the issue on both ends of the floor to give new coach Rick Ray his first win as a head coach. The win was even more impressive because guard Jalen Steele – the team’s top returning player from last season – left the game in the first half after slamming to the floor. He got eight stitches in his head and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. They were also checking his right wrist. No further details right now.
• Turning point: When Steele went down at the 10:37 mark of the first half, MSU was leading 16-14. It then went on a 13-2 run and staked a 43-26 halftime lead. FAU (1-1) never threatened to rally.
• MVP: Roquez Johnson, a little-used reserve last year, led MSU’s post attack with a team-high 17 points.
• MSU leaders: Johnson 17 points (7-11 FGs, 3-10 FTs), 5 rebounds; Fred Thomas 16 points (6-12 FGs, 3-7 3FGs); Craig Sword 11 points (4-8 FGs, 3-7 FTs), 5 turnovers, 4 rebounds; Gavin Ware 10 points (4-8 FGs), 5 rebounds; Trivante Bloodman 9 points (2-7 FGs), 7 assists.
• FAU leaders: Greg Gantt 17 points (6-16 FGs, 2-10 3FGs, 3-3 FTs); Cavon Baker 11 points (4-7 FGs, 2-5 FTs).
• Key stats: MSU 30-61 FGs (49.2%), 4-10 3FGs (40%), 14-28 FTs (50%); FAU 21-63 FGs (33.3%), 6-24 3FGs (25%), 10-15 FTs (66.7%); FAU 27 turnovers, MSU 16; MSU 40 bench points; MSU 48 points in paint.
• Highlight reel: Johnson, who did a good job around the rim tonight, got back-to-back layups to push MSU’s lead to 62-40 in the second half.
• Quotable: “We were kind of down, but we used that to pick ourselves up and went harder and worked hard on defense and got the win.” – Bloodman, on Steele’s injury
• Bottom line: MSU played the style that Ray has been teaching – hard-nosed, effort on both ends, getting everyone involved on offense. The youth was evident on many occasions, but so was the promise of the talent currently on hand. The Bulldogs, unlike recent iterations of this team, seem to have a tenacity about them.
• Up next: MSU heads to Hawaii to play in the Maui Invitational, opening against No. 11 North Carolina on Monday at 5 p.m. CST on ESPN2.