Jones' late shot helps Troy start fresh in new arena with 56-53 win over Mississippi State
TROY, Ala. – Emil Jones hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1.6 seconds remaining to help Troy beat Mississippi State 56-53 Friday night in both teams' season opener.
Jones' 16-footer snapped a 53-53 tie and helped the Trojans win their first game in their new arena and spoil Mississippi State coach Rick Ray's debut with the Bulldogs.
"You only get a chance to win your first game in a new place one time," 31st-year Troy coach Don Maestri said. "You only get a chance to make history once."
Mississippi State, which started a true freshman and had two other freshmen play at least 20 minutes, trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half.
Down 48-40 with 8 1/2 minutes left, the Bulldogs tied it 53-53. Colin Borchert, a junior college transfer making his Mississippi State debut, hit two free throws with 1:10 remaining.
"It's not an ideal situation for this group to play its first game on the road," Ray said. "Not many high-measure universities play their first game on the road."
The Bulldogs last started a season on an opponent's court in 2001. They played a neutral-site game in 2004.
After Jones' tiebreaking basket, the Bulldogs suffered a turnover on their inbounds play. Troy's R.J. Scott hit a free throw with seven-tenths of a second remaining.
Junior reserve Tevin Calhoun had 12 points to lead Troy, which was opening $40 million Trojan Arena. Jones and Hunter Williams scored 10 each.
Junior guard Jalen Steele, one of just five returnees for the Bulldogs, scored a team-high 16 points. Sophomore Trivante Bloodman added 11 points and freshman Gavin Ware had 10 off the bench.
The Trojans hit six 3-pointers, including three by Calhoun, in a 7 1/2-minute span of the first half to build a 30-14 lead.