STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior Jarvis Varnado collected his 16th career double-double Friday night as the Bulldogs dropped an 88-74 decision to Rider in front of 7,241 fans in the 2009-10 season opener at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.
Varnado, a preseason All-SEC selection, collected 22 points and 14 rebounds on the night as Mississippi State dropped the opening game of the season for the first time since a 79-76 setback to Louisiana-Lafayette in 2002.
Varnado also tallied seven blocks in the game to move 11 behind the SEC record of 412 set by Shaquille O'Neal and 134 shy of the NCAA mark of 535 held by Wojciech Mydra of Louisiana-Monroe.
The Brownsville, Tenn., native scored six of the game's first 11 points to give the Bulldogs an early nine-point advantage.
Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson also reached double figures, scoring 14 and 10 points, respectively, on a night when the Dawgs received their rings and hoisted the banner from last season's SEC Tournament championship.
State maintained the lead until the 45-second mark when a Mike Ringgold layup gave the Rider a lead that it would never relinquish. Ringgold and Novar Gadson collected 21 points each to lead Rider.
The festive night was marred by a Rider (1-0) squad that went 30-of-59 (50 percent) from the field, including a sizzling 62-percent clip from the three-point stripe. State connected on 10-of-27 shots (42 percent) from the floor while struggling to a 37-percent night from beyond the arc.
"Everybody understands now how good Rider is. They were better than us tonight," Mississippi State 12th-year head coach Rick Stansbury said. "We did some things that added to them being successful, and we didn't have any answers for them in the second half."
Mississippi State committed 12 turnovers in the game, and the Broncs capitalized by converting those into 20 points.
Rider continued its hot shooting in the second half, opening the second half with four-straight points to push the lead to six at 48-42.
State cut the lead to four a couple of times early in the second half, but Rider went on to build a nine-point lead, its largest of the game, over the next four minutes. The Broncs continued to nurse the lead until the 14-minute mark when a Barry Stewart three and an Osby dunk off a Phil Turner pass cut the MSU deficit to four.
Rider, however, went on a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to take its largest lead of the game at 67-55 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Every time the Bulldogs tried to cut into the lead, the Broncs answered to maintain the double-digit advantage.
The Bulldogs return to the hardwood Thurs., Nov. 19, hosting Southeastern Louisiana in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Humphrey Coliseum.