Troy opens arena, beats Mississippi State 56-53

TROY, Ala. (AP) — Troy hopes the impact of its arena-opening win Friday night over a major-conference team boosts its profile.

The Trojans' 56-53 victory over Mississippi State marked the first game in their $40 million Trojan Arena and came before an announced crowd of 5,120, the largest home crowd in the program's history.

"It was an exciting night for so many people on so many levels," 31st-year Troy coach Don Maestri said. "So many people left here happy and will be talking about that game."

The Trojans, who took the lead on a jumper by Emil Jones with 1.6 seconds remaining, celebrated like it was March rather than their season opener. Friday marked the first time a Southeastern Conference team had played at Troy.

"You see stuff like that on TV all the time at the big colleges," said Jones, a senior guard. "To have it at home was real big."

Jones' 16-foot jumper snapped a 53-53 tie. After a Mississippi State turnover on the inbounds play, Troy's R.J. Scott hit a free throw with seven-tenths of a second remaining.

Mississippi State, with seven newcomers on its roster, was making its debut with coach Rick Ray.

The Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, started one freshman and had two more freshmen play at least 20 minutes. Mississippi State last opened a season on an opponent's court in 2001.

"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."

Junior Jalen Steele, one of just five returnees for the Bulldogs, scored a game-high 16 points. Sophomore Trivante Bloodman added 11 and freshman Gavin Ware 10.

"We're going to get better," Mississippi State freshman Craig Sword said. "We're going to grind and get it."

Tevin Calhoun had 12 points for Troy, including nine in a big first-half run. The Trojans hit six 3-pointers in a 7 1/2-minute span of the first half to lead 30-14.

Jones and Hunter Williams added 10 points each.

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