With 10:40 left in the first half on Tuesday night, Mississippi State's Jalen Steele took a nasty fall and left the arena en route to the hospital.
Steele, the leading returning scorer from last year's squad, left his team with only a 2-point lead over Florida Atlantic and a roster of mostly newcomers.
But Steele's injury sparked a Bulldog rally that would eventually lead Mississippi State to a 78-58 victory behind a combined 33 points by Roquez Johnson and Fred Thomas.
''When he went down, we all said we're going to do it for Jalen,'' Thomas said. ''We picked up the intensity and played harder.''
Mississippi State (1-1) went on to lead 43-26 at the half and the issue was never again in doubt.
''The guys knew they'd have to come together and make a run,'' Ray said. ''I think that's good for our guys to know they had that in them. ''
The Bulldogs forced 27 turnovers and shot 49.2 percent (30 of 61) from the field to give Rick Ray his first victory as head coach.
''It's good to...