Iverson Molinar, Mississippi State meet Montana

NCAA Basketball

Mississippi State will look for another round of strong performances from its newcomers on Saturday when it hosts Montana in Starkville, Miss.

North Carolina transfer Garrison Brooks scored a game-high 18 points in the Bulldogs’ 75-49 season-opening victory over North Alabama on Wednesday. Freshman Cam Carter had 11 points in his debut, and transfers Shakeel Moore and D.J. Jeffries combined for 15 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

“From Day 1, the guys that were coming back accepted everyone with open arms and really (began) trying to adjust so we can win,” Brooks said, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. “That’s our common team goal. That’s something that we really wanted to do. We all got on the same page as soon as we got here.”

All-Southeastern Conference player Iverson Molinar battled through a tough shooting night to finish with 13 points for Mississippi State (1-0), which ratcheted the intensity at the other end of the court.

The Bulldogs limited the Lions to 31.1 percent shooting from the floor and forced 17 turnovers.

“I thought our defense was great,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “We really fed our offense. We shot it well. We got it inside … but our defense was the key.”

Montana (1-0) fared quite well on the defensive end in its season opener, a 74-27 victory over Dickinson State on Tuesday.

The Grizzlies limited the Blue Hawks to just 22.2 percent shooting from the floor — including 5 percent (1 of 20) from 3-point range — while forcing 18 turnovers.

“I had been concerned because our offense was ahead of our defense about a month ago, so it was good for us to go out and perform on that side of the ball,” Montana coach Travis DeCuire said.

Josh Bannan collected 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Kyle Owens (12 points) and Derrick Carter-Hollinger (10) also finished with double-digit scoring totals.

“(Tuesday) was a good start, but Mississippi State is an incredible rebounding team, especially on the offensive glass,” DeCuire said. “They’re going to be big and physical, so we’re going to have to adjust from this game to that. It’s a good team and a tough task, but I think our guys are ready and excited about the opportunity.”

–Field Level Media

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