STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson poured in a career high 32 points as the Bulldogs defeated Tennessee State 75-65 in the season-opening men’s college basketball game of the 2010-11 season played Friday night in Humphrey Coliseum.
With his monster night, Johnson also became the 32nd Bulldog in program history to score 1,000 career points, hitting the unique mark with his final basket of the night. Johnson finished 7-of-17 from the floor, including five 3-point baskets and a 13-of-14 night at the foul line.
The Bulldogs won the contest on the defensive end, as the ability turned up the defensive pressure allowed the hosts to break away from a 31-all halftime tie with a decisive 15-4 run down the back stretch of the game’s final half.
“We are very glad to get the W,” MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “There are a lot of areas where we need to see improvement. We need to learn how to make more gutsy plays. In the second half, we were able to do that. Those plays wound up being the separation in the game.”
The Bulldogs scored the game’s first five points and actually held some type of lead until TSU’s Robert Covington drained a 3-point basket placing the Tigers on top, 18-17. The lead would then be possessed by the visitors until Shaun Smith drained a 3-point basket as the half expired, forcing the 31-all tie.
“In the second half, we did a better job on the defensive end, making some things happen,” Stansbury said. “We have so many players who have not played before. It is hard to get into a rhythm and have a consistency. The only way that will take place is after we play some more games together.”
Johnson took matters in his own hands in the final half, tallying 25 second-half points, including four makes from 3-point land. The Bulldogs actually built a 40-33 lead with 16:29 remaining, only to see the Tigers make yet another run. A Will Peters layup placed TSU on top, 46-44 with 9:14 remaining.
Back-to-back 3’s by Johnson gave the Maroon and White the lead for good. A tip-in by Wendell Lewis stretched the lead to 52-47. The 15-4 run was capped by Johnson’s final trey. That basket placed the Bulldogs on top 62-51 with 4:00 remaining.
The Bulldogs improved to 10-3 in season openers under Stansbury and 8-2 when the opening contest is at home. In the pregame Friday night, the Bulldogs were presented rings for their 2009-10 Southeastern Conference Western Division championship.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 56 shots from the field (37.5 percent), 10 of 23 shots from 3-point range (43.5 percent) and 23 of 28 shots from the foul line (82.1 percent). The Tigers hit 23 of 64 shots from the field (35.9 percent), 6 of 19 shots from 3-point range (31.6 percent) and 13 of 21 shots from the foul line (61.9 percent).
MSU held a 43-36 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 15 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Tigers had 10 assists and 12 turnovers.
Kodi Augustus had his third career double-double for the Bulldogs, scoring 14 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Kenny Moore, Patrick Miller and Covington each had 13 points to pace Tennessee State.
The Bulldogs resume their season-opening nine-game homestand with Appalachian State next Friday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in the Humphrey Coliseum.