Bulldogs announce non-conference schedule


Rick Ray

Year two of the Rick Ray era officially tips off on Nov. 8 when Mississippi State plays host to Prairie View A&M.

In all, the Bulldogs play 13 non-conference games, including nine at Humphrey Coliseum. MSU will also play at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo on Dec. 13 against Southeastern Louisiana, while also playing two games in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic Dec. 22-23.

In addition MSU travels to Utah State on Nov. 23, where the Aggies have posted a 65-10 home mark the last four years. This is a return game for Mississippi State, which claimed a 66-64 win in December of 2011. Last year, Utah State was 21-10 with a 14-4 ledger at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Also coming to the Hump is Florida Gulf Coast, last year’s NCAA Tournament darling.

“We have some very challenging games on this schedule against some proven teams that made the postseason last year,” Ray said. “Florida Gulf Coast is coming off a Sweet 16 run; Utah State has the 4th highest winning percentage in college basketball the past 11 years behind only Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga, and UNLV has made the NCAA Tournament four years in a row.”

After opening with Prairie View, the Bulldogs return home Nov. 14 and Nov. 19 to battle Kennesaw State and Mississippi Valley State, respectively. Following the trip to Utah State, MSU opens a three-game homestand, starting with Jackson State on Nov. 27 and continuing with Loyola on Dec. 1 and TCU on Dec. 5 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

The Loyola game will give MSU fans the opportunity to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the historic NCAA Tournament “Game of Change” outing that took place between the two in 1963. Last year in Chicago, the Ramblers claimed a 59-51 victory.

“This is a game I know our fans are looking forward to,” Ray said. “It was a special moment last year in Chicago, and it will be special again this year as we celebrate the historical meaning the 1963 teams gave us.”

Before heading out to Vegas, MSU welcomes two teams from the Sunshine State to the Hump, starting with Florida A&M on Dec. 17 followed by Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 19.

The Eagles magical season ended with a 26-11 mark after advancing to the Sweet 16 with upset wins against Georgetown and San Diego State.

Then it’s on to Las Vegas, where the Bulldogs open with South Florida, which is just two years removed from their own Sweet 16 run. MSU will then play either UNLV, another NCAA Tournament team, or Santa Clara, the reigning CBI champion who went 26-12 last year.

After the Christmas break, Mississippi State wraps up its non-conference slate against first-time foe Maryland Eastern Shore on Jan. 2.

“With Santa Clara winning the CBI last season with 26 wins and adding TCU for the Big 12/SEC Challenge, it is good schedule for our young and inexperienced team,” Ray added. “This non-conference schedule should have us prepared for our rigorous SEC docket.”

Times and games selected for TV will be announced at a later date, while the SEC will announce the conference schedule in August.

For additional information about Mississippi State athletics, please visit HailState.com.

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