While the No. 10 Mississippi State Bulldogs picked up wins in some late match heart-stoppers Friday against Texas Tech, they needed no such theatrics Saturday as they knocked off the Rice Owls 5-2 to improve to 6-0 on the season.
The Bulldogs, who have struggled recently trying to win the opening doubles point, reversed their recent fortunes by snagging the first point of the match in doubles. Mississippi State's No. 52 ranked tandem of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp had their match with Tommy Bennett and David Warren suspended on court one as the teams of Florian Lakat and Egbert Weverink and Rishab Agarwal and Zach White both earned 6-3 victories to clinch the doubles point for the Bulldogs. Agarwal and White moved to 3-0 on the season in doubles play.
With the first point in hand, Mississippi State made quick work of the Owls, picking up three quick points in straight victories. Robin Haden, a freshman playing only his third match of the year, picked up the Bulldogs' first single point with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Henrik Munich on court six.
Angus, who had his doubles match suspended, knocked off Adam Gustafsson 6-4, 6-3 on court three to move the Bulldogs within one point of victory. Agarwal snagged the deciding point on court five with a 6-5(2), 6-5(4) victory over Gustavo Gonzalez. For Agarwal, the win was the second time he provided the deciding point for the Bulldogs.
With the Bulldogs holding an insurmountable 4-0 lead over Rice, play continued on the other courts. Srikar Alla forced No. 63 Lakat to go three sets, but the Bulldog freshman held on to take a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory. Before he could secure that win, No. 39 Stropp lost his court one singles match to Bennett 6-5(6), 2-6, 1-0(8). The match featured a super tiebreaker instead of a full third set since the meet was no longer in doubt. On court four, Warren defeated White 6-3, 3-6, 6-5(5).
Mississippi State coach Per Nilsson said he approved of his players' effort over the weekend.
"We had two really good wins this weekend, and I am proud of how our guys fought," said Nilsson. "Really great seeing this team improving with each match and looking forward to heading back home for the next two contest."
Those two contests will feature the Bulldogs taking on No. 66 Samford and Alcorn State. Mississippi State will play both teams in a Sunday doubleheader at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on Feb. 9. Those matches start at noon.
The Bulldogs then head to Houston for the 2014 ITA National Team Indoor Championship starting on Feb. 13 and ending on Feb. 16.