STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)D.J. Stewart Jr. scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime, Iverson Molinar added 15 in his season debut and Mississippi State defeated North Texas 69-63 Friday night.
The Bulldogs (2-2) pounded the ball inside, outscoring North Texas (1-2) 44-22 in the paint. Tolu Smith added 12 points and eight rebounds for Mississippi State, and Jalen Johnson scored 10.
Molinar, a sophomore guard, had missed the first three games, quarantining after a positive COVID-19 test. Friday he scored five points in the first three minutes, announcing his return with Mississippi State’s lone 3-pointer.
He shot 5-for-9 with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 29 minutes.
Rubin Jones led Mean Green with 14 points, 11 in the second half on 3-for-3 shooting from distance. Jones finished 4 of 5 from behind the 3-point arc. North Texas made seven from beyond the arc to Mississippi State’s 1-for-10.
North Texas fashioned a 13-8 surge to begin the second half and cut an 11-point Mississippi State lead to 37-33. Stewart converted a three-point play and the Bulldogs lead generally hovered between six and 10 points the rest of the way.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25