Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State knocked off Eastern Washington 106-88 to open the season 1-0.

Mississippi State starting center Gavin Ware walked on to the Humphrey Coliseum floor singing along with the Bulldog basketball pep band. The talented center greeted all five of the Eastern Washington players with a handshake and then won the opening tip. With those civilities handled, the Ben Howland era of Bulldog basketball was underway.

We were back at the "Hump for Hoops" and for the first time in a long time there was a real energy in the building.

Some quick whistles and a couple of unforced errors had the home crowd a little subdued in the early going. Even with those opening jitters in mind, Mississippi State had a big night and not just on the scoreboard.

A sell out crowd showed up and did their part to will their team to a win.

Giving up 51 points in the first half was likely not part of the Howland vision for opening night.  A teachable moment for a team who looked to have the better end of the athletic comparison.
The veteran coach cautioned throughout the pre-season that EW was not exactly an ideal opponent for a season opener.

An NCAA tournament team a season ago, the Eagles clearly came to play. Led by senior point guard Austin McBroom, EW found some success driving the ball off of the dribble as the intermission saw the visitors out to a three point lead, 51-48.

Despite a lethargic start to the second half that saw the Eastern Washington lead swell to double digits, State battled back and began to make some baskets in transition.
With the Dogs on a run that cut the margin to just four, the crowd began to really make their presence felt.

Where has that been in recent years?

Bulldog fans are clearly hungry for success in men's hoops. There were seasons in not so distant memory when Bulldog sports hopes depended largely on the hardwood.

There has not been an NCAA men's bracket filled out with Mississippi State as a participant since 2009.

Coach Ben Howland and his staff are looking to reverse that trend. While it remains to be seen if these Bulldogs can find a place in the post season,  the cornerstone of a new foundation was put in place tonight.

Down double digits in the second half, Mississippi State turned up the pressure on the defensive end and raced back to a double digit lead as they eclipsed the centry mark for the first time dropping 106 on Troy in 2011.

While the Bulldog players are to be commended for their showing in the lid lfiter for the campaign, a debt of gratitude is owed to the Mississippi State faithful.

If opening night is any indication of the level of fan support the new regime can expect, it should be a season to remember.  9,931 saw the Bulldogs get off to a 1-0 start.

 Every Bulldog who dressed, save Malik Newman who was held out with turf toe, played.  The five star frosh is expected to see his first action when the Bulldogs return to Humphrey Coliseum Monday to take on the Jaguars of Southern.

The Bulldogs won by the score of 106 - 88 and those sitting courtside as well as those stacked to the rafters drove home happy.

Yes, the Bulldogs will have to play better defense and they will.

Yes, the Bulldogs will need to execute with far better precision on the offensive end and they will

Yes, there will be less than capacity crowds during some of the mid-week contests during the non-conference slate.

In the end, the margin of victory on Friday night was really on a matter of record. A team and a fanbase who badly needed a win, got one.  The first of many.

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