STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Lawrence Roberts wouldn't let a pesky plastic mask stop him from making Mississippi State history.
Roberts racked up the Bulldogs' first triple-double in a 98-69 rout of Nicholls State on Sunday.
The All-American finished with 18 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, despite constant irritation from the clear plastic mask he wore to protect his broken nose.
At one point in the second half, he threw the mask toward the Mississippi State bench in frustration after being fouled on a layup.
"Just knowing that my nose is very sensitive ... if I bang it again, it's longer that I have to wear that mask," Roberts said. "That's the only thing I'm thinking about."
The Bulldogs (4-1) sealed the win in their home opener with a 20-7 run early in the second half.
Roberts, the defending Southeastern Conference player of the year, didn't have a field goal in the first half but scored 13 points in the second half to help Mississippi State (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) pull away.
Mississippi State had four other scorers in double figures, but coach Rick Stansbury said Roberts' production is key.
"A bunch of (the offense) is going to flow through him," Stansbury said. "He can hurt you in so many ways. He can hurt you scoring. He can hurt you off the bounce. He can hurt you off the pass. He draws a lot of attention."
"We just want to keep all options open and let a team know that we have more than one option," Roberts said.
Mississippi State is in the middle of a four-games-in-six-days stretch.
The Bulldogs lost to Syracuse on Thursday and beat Saint Mary's on Friday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. They play host to Missouri-Kansas City on Tuesday night.
Stansbury said he didn't plan to rest Roberts against the Colonels -- not with the rugged Southeastern Conference schedule starting in six weeks. Roberts had missed practice time because of the broken nose, and the Bulldogs coach wanted to make sure his power forward was in shape.
"I played him fatigued," Stansbury said. "When he wanted to
go out a couple of times, I turned my head. I didn't look at him."
The Bulldogs trailed only briefly in the opening minutes and led
by as many as 12 in the first half, but had a 37-29 halftime lead --
mainly because Blaszczynksi scored Nicholls State's final 12 points
of the half.
The Colonels closed to 38-33 early in the second half on King's
That's when Mississippi State pulled away with its game-deciding
run, taking a 58-41 lead with 12:54 remaining on the second of two
jumpers by Harper. Nicholls State got no closer than 12 the rest of
Mississippi State made nearly 52 percent (35-of-68) of its
attempts from the field.