Bulldogs prepare to take on Florida State

Published 12:23 am Friday, January 2, 2015

From school reports

STARKVILLE — Their first eight meetings have resulted in a 4-4 split. When Mississippi State and Florida State meet at Humphrey Coliseum today, one team will regain the upper hand.

The SEC-ACC showdown is part of a double-header as the No. 17-ranked women’s team battles No. 19 Georgia at 3 p.m. Tickets for the women’s game are $5.

Email newsletter signup

The Bulldogs (6-6) enter the contest coming off a disappointing 66-47 setback to McNeese State on Tuesday, while the Seminoles (8-5) collected a last-second 65-63 win against in-state rival Florida.

“Florida State is playing with a lot of confidence,” said MSU coach Rick Ray, whose team will make a return trip to Tallahassee next year. “They are a balanced team and are well coached. We will have to play our best game of the year.”

This is the final non-conference outing for the Bulldogs, who open SEC play Wednesday at home against Tennessee at 8 p.m.

MSU enters the game with the Seminoles led in scoring by Fred Thomas at 11.3 points. The junior guard has started all 12 games and leads the Bulldogs with 21 made 3-pointers and his 16 steals. In his last game against McNeese, however, he was limited to 4 points on 1-4 shooting.

Florida State, which is riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, is paced by Montay Brandon with his 14.2 scoring clip and 5.4 rebounds. Against the Gators, he had a team-high 17 points.

Defensively, MSU is allowing just 58.1 points an outing, the fourth fewest in the SEC. The Bulldogs are also giving up the fewest rebounds at 29.3. Offensively, however, Mississippi State is last in the league in scoring (61.5) and 11th field goal percentage (.434).

“I think that any team, I don’t care who the opposition is, you have to get off to a good start to give yourselves confidence and not give the other team confidence,” Ray said. “Right now, we’re struggling so much on the offensive end, and if we don’t get defensive stops, we just have a hard time sustaining any energy.”

Friday marks the first meeting between the two since March of 2007, when the Bulldogs registered an 86-71 win in the quarterfinals of the NIT. In Starkville, MSU holds a 3-1 advantage.