Mississippi State University men’s basketball dominated in game one of the season-opening doubleheader as they gave a glimpse of what the program could be, and MSU women’s basketball won a tough game as they remembered their past success.
Holman's double-double leads the Bulldogs to an opening night victory
While MSU men’s basketball (1-0) won 96-68, fouls were the big take away for head coach Ben Howland after MSU’s season-opening game over Alabama State University (0-1).
Eight minutes into the game, the two teams combined for 20 fouls. Howland addressed the foul situation as the refs called a really tight game.
“Officials came out calling things very tight. The game did not have a flow to it early on because there were so many fouls,” Howland said. “The players need to understand how the game is being called, so they can adjust their game to it.”
The team avoided any more foul trouble by switching to a zone defense. Howland also credited big man Aric Holman, who had a double-double, and guard Eli Wright with a great performance in the victory.
“I think Aric Holman had a great first half, and ended up with a double-double, Eli Wright gave us great minutes today,” Howland said. "I’m very glad we go the first win of the year and got off to a great start. It will continue next Saturday.”
Holman, a junior forward from Owensboro, Kentucky, scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of playing time.
“I felt great, but at the end of the day I owe it all to my teammates," Holman said. "They are constantly telling me to score the ball and they help me build my confidence. It’s just another part of me.”
Howland was proud of Holman’s versatility in tonight's game as he was able to knock down a few threes, block some shots and make great passes. He said he needs Holman to stay strong when he is tired.
“I was very excited for him, he ended up with 21 minutes, and we need him to keep pushing himself through exhaustion,” Howland said. “He did a great job passing the ball, stretching the floor, and blocking shots.”
Vivians, Bibby are couple of bright points in hard-fought opener
On the back end of the doubleheader, the No. 4 ranked MSU women’s basketball team (1-0) experienced a special night as the Final Four banner was raised high into the rafters before MSU women’s basketball took on the University of Virginia (0-1).
MSU pulled out the 68-53 win and head coach Vic Schaefer felt the game matched the level of play of a postseason game.
“That felt like a NCAA tournament game, I just have so much respect for Virginia and their staff,” Schaefer said. “This was a crazy game to open with, I’ve been sick about it for a while. I thought Torrie (Vivians) was the difference in that she took great shots, and attacked the rim,”
Victoria Vivians, a senior guard from Carthage, scored 22 points, and grabbed seven rebounds in 37 minutes. She said knows it is her defense, not her offense, that makes the difference.
“I feel like if I produce on the defensive end then we will have a chance of winning games,” Vivians said. “We’ve got good chemistry, so there is no point in taking a bad shot. I feel like what coach always says, 'make a good shot a great shot.' If they make the extra pass and I’m open, I’m going to shoot it.”
Freshman guard Chloe Bibby, from Warracknabeal, Australia, played in her first official game as a college player. She scored 13 points in 29 minutes. She said she did not feel any pressure stepping into a role with the team.
“It didn’t really bother me a whole lot. I’ve got great teammates around me who are always helping me on and off the court, so I didn’t really feel any pressure from that,” Bibby said. “I’m just glad I could contribute and help out where I could.”
Schaefer said he believes Bibby will play an important role in this team going forward and he was pleasantly surprised by her performance. However, he said she will have to learn some technical things to get better.
“Her skill set is really good. She’s, from a skill set standpoint, a little bit different, but that’s good, and that is something that will help us a bunch,” Schaefer said. “What she is going to have to deal with is some technique, blocking out, and dealing with some other things.”