STARKVILLE, Miss. – Rick Ray officially begins his third season at Mississippi State when the Bulldogs open the 2014-15 campaign at home against Western Carolina on Nov. 14.
The non-conference portion of the schedule features 13 games, including eight at home and a Dec. 20 matchup with South Carolina Upstate in Jackson.
The Bulldogs will also play in the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic, opening with St. Louis on Nov. 28 and then playing either TCU or Bradley the following day. The schedule also features games at Oregon State and Tulane and home affairs with Utah State and Florida State. In addition, MSU will play an exhibition game against Delta State on Nov. 6.
The SEC schedule will be announced in August.
“Our non-conference schedule is an indication of the direction of our program,” Ray said. “As our team matures and our talent level increases, our schedule reflects the belief in my team to accept bigger and better challenges. I also want to provide a great fan experience by having a team of the caliber of Florida State come in and play in The Hump. This schedule will not only prepare us for the SEC but also prepare us to have success in the SEC.”
Below is a closer look at each team . . .
Western Carolina, Nov. 14, 2014
Mississippi State will face off against Western Carolina for the first time in 2014. The Catamounts finished the 2014 campaign with a 19-15 record and finished fifth in the Southern Conference with a 10-6 ledger. WCU, coached by Larry Hunter, returns two starters from a year ago in senior guard James Sinclair and senior forward Kenneth Hall, who averaged 11.8 and 2.5 points, respectively. Sinclair also paced the Catamounts with 55 steals and was second with 62 assists.
Mississippi Valley State, Nov. 17, 2014
Mississippi State and Mississippi Valley State will meet for the fifth time, with MSU holding a 4-0 advantage. This showdown is the first of two campus games associated with the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic. The two teams last faced off on Nov. 19, 2013, with the Bulldogs claiming a 94-72 victory in Starkville. MVSU finished the 2013-2014 slate with a 9-23 record, including a 5-13 mark in the SWAC. The Delta Devils return their leading scorer in senior Anthony McDonald (11.9).
Utah State, Nov. 22, 2014
Mississippi State will face off against Utah State for the third time. This will be third game in a three-game series, which currently sits at 1-1, with the home team winning each of the first two games. The Aggies finished the 2013-2014 season with a record of 18-14, and finished eighth in the Mountain West Conference with a 7-11 ledger. USU, coached by Stew Morrill, lost their three leading scorers in Spencer Butterfield (12.9), Preston Medlin (12.4), and Jarred Shaw (14.1).
Clayton State, Nov. 24, 2014
This will be the first matchup between MSU and Clayton State and is the second campus game of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic. The Lakers finished 2014 with a record of 10-16, and finished tied for sixth in the Peach Belt Conference Western Division at 6-13. Paul Harrison’s CSU squad lost its three leading scorers in Charles Shedrick (17.0), Omari Murray (12.7), and Craig Wong (11.0).
St. Louis, Nov. 28, 2014
Mississippi State and St. Louis meet in the opening round of the Corpus Christi Challenge at the American Bank Center. It’s just the second meeting between the two schools, with SLU claiming a 63-46 win in St. Louis on Dec. 9, 1950. Last year, the Billikens went 27-7 and won the regular-season Atlantic-10 crown with a 13-3 ledger. Their season ended with a 66-51 setback to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. St. Louis lost all five starters off last year’s squad. The leading scorer returning is junior guard Austin McBroom, who averaged 7.3 points. MSU assistant coach Chris Hollender was on SLU coach Jim Crews’ staff at Army.
Bradley, Nov. 29, 2014
This will be the second meeting between Mississippi State and Bradley, if the two meet in the second round. They last faced off in the MasterCard NIT in Starkville on March 17, 2007, with MSU claiming a 101-72 victory. The Braves finished the 2013-2014 season with a 12-20 record and seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 7-11 ledger. In his fourth year at Bradley, Geno Ford’s squad lost its two leading scorers in Walt Lemon Jr. (18.0) and Tyshon Pickett (12.1).
TCU, Nov. 29, 2014
Mississippi State and TCU could meet in the second round of the Corpus Christi Challenge. The two have met three times, with the Horned Frogs holding a 2-1 advantage. They met last December in the Big12/SEC Challenge, with TCU claiming a 71-61 victory. The Horned Frogs finished the 2013-2014 campaign with a record of 9-22, and finished 10th in the Big 12 with a 0-18 ledger. TCU, coached by Trent Johnson, returns its leading scorer in senior Kyan Anderson (17.0).
Tulane, Dec. 6, 2014
This will mark the 93rd meeting between the Bulldogs and Green Wave when they battle in New Orleans. Mississippi State currently holds a 54-38 record against Tulane. The two last met in the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic on Dec. 27, 2003, when the Bulldogs won 72-50. The Green Wave finished the 2014 season 17-17 and seventh in Conference USA at 8-8. Tulane made an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, where they lost a heartbreaker to Princeton 56-55. Ed Conroy’s squad returns its leading scorer in Louis Dabney (15.2). This will be the Green Wave’s first season in the American Athletic Conference.
Oregon State, Dec. 13, 2014
Mississippi State will meet Oregon State for the second time. The two last faced each other on Dec. 29, 1995, in the Ford Far West Classic in Portland, Ore., where the Bulldogs won, 76-62. Oregon State earned a 16-16 record last year and finished 10th in the Pac-12 at 8-10. In his first year at OSU, Wayne Tinkle’s squad returns two of the top three leading scorers from the 2014 team in Devon Collier (13.4) and Angus Brandt (12.6).
Arkansas State, Dec. 17, 2014
Mississippi State and Arkansas State are meeting for the 12th time, with the Bulldogs holding a 9-2 advantage. They last met on Nov. 21, 2005, with MSU claiming a 68-65 victory in Starkville. Last year, the Red Wolves posted a 19-13 record and finished fourth in the Sun Belt with a 10-8 ledger. ASU, coached by former MSU assistant John Brady, lost its top three scorers from a year ago in Melvin Johnson (15.2), Kirk Van Slyke (14.9) and Kendrick Washington (10.1).
South Carolina Upstate, Dec. 20, 2014
This game in Jackson marks the first meeting between the two schools. It also features the return to Mississippi Coliseum for the Bulldogs, who played in Tupelo this past season. The Spartans were 19-15 last year, 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun, and saw their season end in the opening round of the CIT to Towson. Returning is senior guard Ty Greene, who was second on his team in scoring at 14.3.
Jacksonville, Dec. 23, 2014
The Bulldogs and Dolphins are meeting for the fourth time, with MSU winning all three previous outings. They last met in November of 2002, with the Bulldogs claiming a 100-65 win in Starkville. Last year, Jacksonville was 12-18 overall and 8-10 in the A-Sun. The Dolphins lost all five starters from a year ago, including leading scorer Jarvis Haywood (16.6), who recently transferred to UNC-Wilmington. JU also has a new coach in Tony Jasick.
McNeese State, Dec. 30, 2014
Mississippi State has won six of its seven meetings all time against the Cowboys, including the last six. However, the two haven’t played since December of 2006 when the Bulldogs claimed an 89-63 win in Starkville. Last year, McNeese posted an 11-20 record with a 9-9 mark in the Southland Conference. The Cowboys return three starters, including senior guard Kevin Hardy, who was second in scoring with his 11.0 clip. Also back is leading rebounder and senior forward, Desharick Guidry (8.0).
Florida State, Jan. 2, 2015
ACC foe Florida State will be making its fifth appearance in Starkville, where MSU is 3-1. Overall, the series is tied at 4-apiece. The two last met in the quarterfinals of the 2007 NIT, where the Bulldogs prevailed, 86-71. Last year, the Seminoles were 22-14 and 9-9 in conference play. Their season ended with a 67-64 overtime loss to Minnesota in the semifinals of the NIT. FSU returns three starters, including leading scorer Aaron Thomas (14.5).