CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Freshman Iverson Molinar scored a season-high 21 points and Mississippi State beat Tulane 80-66 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
Tyson Carter added 16 points and 11 rebounds, Reggie Perry scored 18 points, and the Bulldogs (5-0) shot 61% overall and made 13 of 19 shots in the second half.
“We’ve got guys who are capable of shooting,” Carter said, “and tonight was just a good night for Iverson and Reggie Perry.”
Mississippi State never trailed, established a 41-16 rebounding advantage, led by 25 and withstood a late rally to earn a matchup with No. 17 Villanova on Friday in one semifinal.
“As long as I’ve been coaching, I’ve never been in a situation where the rebound situation was what it was,” Tulane coach Ron Hunter said. “We were absolutely dominated. … You just aren’t going to win many games that way. … It’s just, we had a lot missed shots.”
Christion Thompson and K.J. Lawson each scored 12 points and Jordan Walker finished with 11 for the Green Wave (3-1) in their first loss under Hunter. Tulane used a late 16-5 run and pulled to 75-61 on Lawson’s layup with just under 3 minutes left. D.J. Stewart countered with a three-point play with 2:17 to play to put Mississippi State back up by 17.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs, who are receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25, couldn’t afford a loss in their Myrtle Beach opener if they wanted to crack the national rankings for the second straight season. After picking up wins against five mid-major programs, they get their first real test of the young season when they face the Wildcats. “We’re going to have to man up tomorrow because we’re going to see intense man-to-man pressure right in your grill,” coach Ben Howland said.
Tulane: The Green Wave — who forced 21 turnovers in two previous games — made things messy in this one, with 25 takeaways that led to 22 points. But they had no answers when Mississippi State created shots, allowing the Bulldogs to shoot 68% in the final 20 minutes.
Mississippi State: Plays No. 17 Villanova on Friday in one semifinal.
Tulane: Faces Middle Tennessee on Friday in a consolation game.