- Associated Press - Friday, November 25, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Mississippi State is getting used to a new role these days.

Just five days after notching their biggest win under fifth-year coach Vic Schaefer, the seventh-ranked Bulldogs held off a pesky Oregon team, 75-63, in the first day of the Rainbow Wahine Showdown on Friday.

Victoria Vivians scored 17 points and Morgan William added 14 to pace Mississippi State (5-0).

Vivians, a 6-foot-1 junior guard and a first team preseason All-SEC selection, made 7 of 13 shots from the field despite being in foul trouble for much of the second half.

Oregon cut the Mississippi State lead from 39-30 at halftime to just two points following Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 5:57 left in the third quarter.

However, Vivians drained a deep 3-pointer from the left wing on the Bulldogs’ next possession and added a 10-foot pull-up to stretch their lead back to 49-42.

She picked up her fourth foul with 1:55 left in the third quarter and played just 10 minutes after halftime.

Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer praised the play of reserve guards Blair Schaefer and Roshuna Johnson, who combined for 24 minutes of game time while relieving Vivians.

“I was real proud of Blair and Roshuna coming off the bench and giving us those quality minutes at that spot,” said Schaefer, whose team posted a 79-68 win over then-No. 7 Texas Sunday.

“We’re learning that we’re the hunted now. We’ve been the hunters for a long time, (but) we are now the hunted and that’s a new role for this team, so we’re learning how to accept that night in, night out,” Schaefer said. “I thought tonight we took their best shot in the third quarter and came back and answered it with my best player in foul trouble.”

Mississippi State (5-0) shot 51.9 percent from the field.

Lexi Bando and Sabrina Ionescu each scored 14 points for the Ducks (4-1).

“In the second half we got back to what we like to do, which is get the ball side, top, side,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We had a little bit more motion and flow to our game and that helped, but then we got away from it at the end. They clamped down and they’re a good team.”

Oregon was called for 27 fouls to 19 for Mississippi State and had three players finish with four fouls.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: has now won 33 of its last 34 regular-season none-conference games going back to the 2014-15 seasons, including 13 straight victories in such games.

Oregon: shot just 39.3 percent from the field in the first half, but kept it close by shooting 50 percent (12 of 24) after halftime. The Ducks were playing their first game away from home.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Oregon got within six points of Mississippi State following a free throw by Morgan William that made it 53-47. The Ducks looked to cut the deficit even further when Jayde Woods broke free for a transition lay-up, but Breanna Richardson soared from behind and blocked her shot with just seconds remaining in the period. The big defensive play was a four-point swing for the Bulldogs and helped them regain momentum heading into the final quarter.

INFLUX OF YOUTH

Of the 14 players that saw court time for Oregon, half of them are freshmen. The Ducks recruiting class, which is ranked third nationally behind Maryland and Baylor, features four players that were Gatorade state players of the year in high school, including Ionescu, last year’s national player of the year.

“We grew up a lot tonight, there’s no doubt,” Graves said. “That’s a senior-laden Mississippi State team. Those are veterans and a couple of times we had four freshmen on the floor for long stretches. They’re just learning how to play the game. They’re really talented, but physically, we’re not ready for this yet. That being said, we hung with them for a long time.”

UP NEXT

Mississippi State will play San Jose State Saturday, which will mark just the second meeting between the programs and first since Dec. 19, 2004, when the Bulldogs held on for a 66-60 win over the Spartans.

Oregon faces tournament-host Hawaii Saturday, which leads the all-time series against the Ducks 3-1.

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