MSU celebrates coliseum milestone
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, left, and former head basketball coach Kermit Davis share a light moment with an official prior to Sunday's game against Auburn. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
The 500th men's game at Humphrey Coliseum for Mississippi State had the same result as the first one, only this time it was a little easier than a little over 35 years ago.
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When the building opened for the first time on Dec. 1, 1975, the Bulldogs defeated Indiana State 85-82.
On Sunday, MSU dominated Auburn 85-66 as the school celebrated the milestone of its home arena.
The honorary captain for the game was Kermit Davis, who coached the Bulldogs from 1971-77 and was in charge when the Bulldogs made the move from the McCarthy Gymnasium to Humphrey Coliseum.
Davis accepted the game ball from MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin and took part in a ceremonial toss before the opening tip.
Prior to the game, Davis had time to reflect on what the first night at "the Hump" was like.
"I'll never forget how everybody felt about the new place and what a beautiful thing it was," Davis said. "There wasn't one any better really anywhere. That night we were playing a really good team and had a big guy who went on to play pro ball. We had a freshman to get 34 (points). We started three freshmen that night and they went on to be great players."
Davis has a hard time believing 500 games have come and gone since coaching the first game at Humphrey Coliseum. He credited Dr. William L. Giles and athletic director Charlie Shira for their support.
"They meant a lot for getting the money for this coliseum," Davis said. "Even when we got it built, we lacked one thing as far as furniture to put in the offices and they came back and got that for us too.
"I'll never forget in talking with people and how proud and comfortable they were with the new place after being at the old gym where they didn't have anything but bleachers."
The capacity of the McCarthy Gymnasium was only 5,000 and after renovations over the last few years, the Humphrey Coliseum now seats twice that much at 10,500.
Just last season, the Bulldogs set another attendance record in the building when 10,788 watched MSU play Kentucky on Feb. 16.
Davis remembers the crowds that packed the Hump in the early years.
"The Ole Miss game in 1975 that was the largest crowd ever to see a basketball game in the state of Mississippi," Davis recalled. "It was standing room only. It's still a great home-court advantage and all of us are very proud of it."
The Bulldogs enjoy the atmosphere that playing at Humphrey Coliseum brings.
"It's always great to play in front of your home crowd and our fans that support us," MSU point guard Dee Bost said.
With the victory over Auburn, the Bulldogs now have a record of 362-138 since Humphrey Coliseum opened.
In the 1975-76 season, MSU opened the new arena with five-straight wins, including a 77-73 upset of nationally-ranked Kentucky to open the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule.