STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Tyson Carter had a game-high 23 points to lead Mississippi State to a season-opening 77-69 win over Florida International on Tuesday.
Iverson Molinar had 14 points and Reggie Perry added 13 for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have won seven straight season opener and are 5-0 in openers under head coach Ben Howland. Mississippi State now has won 23 straight home games versus non-conference opponents.
Devon Andrews led Florida International with 16 points while Trejon Brewer had 13. Eric Lovett and Osasumwen Osaghae also finished in double digits for the Panthers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Mississippi State and FIU traded leads in the opening six minutes and were tied three times during that stretch. Jacob's second 3 pointer of the first half gave the Panthers a 23-16 advantage with 9:39 left in the opening half.
But the Bulldogs used their size advantage on the backboards and forced 12 first-half turnovers to close out the half. Carter's buzzer-beating layup to end the first half helped the Bulldogs explode for a 20-5 run to close the half and a 40-30 halftime advantage.
In the first half, Mississippi State shot a sizzling 59.3% from the field while the Panthers shot 42.9%. The Bulldogs held a 15-13 rebounding advantage in the first half, and also had six steals before the break.
Florida International: Coming off a 20-14 season that included a postseason tournament (CBI), the Panthers have bulked up the early schedule and have several other non-conference challenges against Power 5 programs. Florida International will play at N.C. State next week and have a trip to Minnesota in December.
Mississippi State: With a relatively young backcourt, the Bulldogs will need increased scoring and leadership from senior Tyson Carter. Junior point guard Nick Weatherspoon is suspended for the first 10 games of the season, so Carter is at the point in the meantime. Carter looked solid in the opening win with seven boards, six steals and three assists though he committed eight turnovers.
Florida International: The Panthers open their home schedule Friday against Division 2 Ave Maria.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue a season-opening, four-game homestand on Friday, hosting defending Southland Conference champion Sam Houston State.