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MSU hoops lifting up non-conference strength with home-and-home contract with Florida State



Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE -- In a continued effort to add more competitiveness to the non-conference portion of the schedule, Mississippi State coach Rick Ray signed another home-and-home deal.  


The third-year Bulldogs coach announced via Twitter Monday afternoon that MSU had agreed to a contract with Florida State that will begin with the Seminoles coming to Humphrey Coliseum on Jan. 2, 2015. MSU will return the game in the contract during the following year in Tallahassee, Florida.  


"Happy to announce we have scheduled a home & home w/ Florida State," Ray wrote on Twitter. "FSU will be in The Hump on Jan. 2! We go to FSU in 2015-16." 


Florida State, coached by former NBA coach Leonard Hamilton, finished last season 22-14 and reached the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament before losing to eventual champion Minnesota. The Seminoles, who will welcome a four-star recruit according to ESPN.com's ranking in forward Phil Coker from Atlanta, return several key pieces to its team from last season including its leading scorer in sophomore guard Aaron Thomas (14.8 points per game).  


The two programs have split eight games with the most recent being a 86-71 victory for the Bulldogs in Starkville during the 2006 NIT. FSU is 2-0 against MSU in its home arena in Tallahassee, Florida. 


This announcement comes less than a month after MSU announced a home-and-home deal with Oregon State that will start with the Bulldogs playing in Corvallis, Oregon on Dec. 15. 


The matchups with FSU and OSU, both members of Power 5 conferences, is seen as the Bulldogs trying to beef up its non-conference schedule after rolling out the easiest non-conference strength of schedule in the country last season according to Ken Pomeroy's college basketball rating system. The Southeastern Conference has been determined to not let its 14 schools play schedules filled with perceived easy wins and hired consultant Greg Shaheen in 2013 to assist schools with their scheduling issues.  


"We're going to make sure we're playing the kind of schedules that will position us to put the number of teams in the (NCAA) Tournament that we have traditionally over the years," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in 2013 when Shaheen was hired.  




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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