STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Roquez Johnson and Fred Thomas combined for 33 points to lead Mississippi State to a 78-58 win over Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night.
Mississippi State (1-1) forced 27 turnovers and shot 49.2 percent (30 of 61) from the field to give Rick Ray his first victory as head coach. MSU has now won three straight home openers.
FAU (0-3) shot 33.3 percent from the field (21 of 63) and trailed almost the entire game. MSU has held both its opponents so far this season to under 37-percent shooting.
Johnson scored a career-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and had 5 rebounds. Thomas scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had 5 steals. Craig Sword added 11 points and Gavin Ware chipped in 10 points.
Mississippi State opened the game on an 8-2 run and forced 18 turnovers in the opening half. Using a motion-based offense, the Bulldogs led 43-26 at the break and went on an 18-3 run in the second half to seal the win.
FAU guard Greg Gantt led the Owls with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Cavon Baker added 11 points.
Guard Jalen Steele, Mississippi State's leading returning scorer, left the game in the first half with an apparent head injury and was taken to the hospital.
Already starting the season shorthanded due to roster attrition from last year's Rick Stansbury-led squad, Mississippi State played its entire roster in the game. Only two players didn't hit double-digit minutes.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press