Mississippi St. tops N. Texas 69-63, Molinar returns

NCAA Men's Basketball

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.

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