Trey Fort had a breakout start to his first season at Mississippi State. Now, he will guide the Bulldogs against his former school, UT Martin, Saturday in Starkville, Miss.
Fort transferred to Mississippi State (1-0) from a junior college for just his second season of Division I basketball. In Wednesday’s season opener against Arizona State in Chicago, Bulldogs coach Chris Jans had a few options to start in the backcourt next to Dashawn Davis, and he only told Fort he would get the nod during warmups.
“We didn’t make (the decision) till the last minute, to be perfectly honest with you,” Jans said. “Discussed it a little bit here and there … We got lucky and picked the right one today.”
Fort went 6-for-12 from the field, highlighted by a 5-for-10 night behind the arc, for a career-high 21 points to lead all scorers in the 71-56 Mississippi State victory.
Fort will face UT Martin, where he played 11 games as a freshman in 2020-21 and averaged 2.6 points per contest. But Fort said he has had a shooter’s mindset his whole life.
“I just don’t think about the misses,” Fort said. “(I believe) the next one is going to fall. I believe all of them are going in.”
Jimmy Bell Jr. scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting for Mississippi State in the win. Bell, Cameron Matthews and D.J. Jeffries each finished with nine rebounds.
The Skyhawks (1-0) opened their season with a 104-76 rout of Champion Christian College, which competes at Division II of the National Christian College Athletics Association (NCCAA).
Six players tallied in double figures for UT Martin in that game, led by Justus Jackson’s 18 points off the bench. Jalen Myers added 15 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes, also in a reserve role.
Third-year Skyhawks coach Ryan Ridder guided the program from eight wins in his first season to 19 in 2022-23.
“Winning 19 games and finishing third place last year, the overall theme for our team right now is probably excitement,” Ridder said. “… Sometimes you have to look at what’s beneath the wins and losses — we’ve understood how to win and now we’re figuring out how to be the best version of ourselves. We have guys who have bought in to playing one more day in March and putting others before yourself.”
–Field Level Media