ORLANDO, FL -- Mississippi State withstood Monmouth's early barrage of 3-pointers and topped the Hawks at Orlando, FL. Lawrence Roberts scored 19 points, and the second-seeded Bulldogs outlasted the 15th-seeded Hawks' to win 85-52 in the first round of the Atlanta Regional on Friday night.
Branden Vincent added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Shane Power had 13 points while Gary Ervin scored 11. Timmy Bowers had nine assists, tying his career high, and six rebounds to go with five points and three steals.
Roberts appeared unhindered by an ankle injury that kept him out of practice this week. When the Southeastern Conference's player of the year was raked across the face with 10:43 to go, he sat for good.
The Bulldogs (26-3) advanced to meet the winner of the Louisville-Xavier game played later Friday night. Mississippi State was upset as a five seed by Butler in the first round of last year's tournament.
Monmouth (21-12) hasn't won a tournament game in three appearances.
Dwayne Byfield scored 12 points to lead Monmouth, the Northeast Conference champions. Blake Hamilton was held to six points, almost 11 less than his average.
The Hawks made 12 of their first 20 shots, including seven of 10 3-pointers. With five minutes left before halftime, Byfield hit back-to-back 3s and Marques Alston's layup cut the deficit to 36-32.
But most of the Hawks' shots were followed by a Mississippi State basket. The Bulldogs, in the first 10 minutes, were 10-of-13 with six 3-pointers.
When Monmouth's shots finally stopped falling, Mississippi State ran away.
The Bulldogs scored 10 of the half's last 12 points for a 46-34 lead at the break. That began a 22-5 run in a 10-minute stretch, with Vincent scoring 11 points. Winsome Frazier hit a 3-pointer with 15:21 for a 58-37 lead, and the Bulldogs cruised from there.
The margin reached as high as 35 points in the closing seconds as Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury emptied his bench. All but two of the 13 players who saw action scored.
Mississippi State's domination was written all over the statistics: 54 percent shooting to 35 percent, a rebounding advantage of 47-20, 14 fast-break points and 31 points off 17 turnovers.
Monmouth missed 25 of its last 31 shots, and was held scoreless for a seven-minute stretch of the second half.