July 3, 2013 4:45:20 PM
STARKVILLE -- Rick Ray's second season as Mississippi State University men's basketball coach will tip off Friday, Nov. 8, against Prairie View A&M University at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU will play 13 non-conference games, including nine at The Hump. It will play against Southeastern Louisiana University on Dec. 13 at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo. It also will play two games in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22-23.
In addition, MSU will travel to Utah State on Nov. 23, where the Aggies have posted a 65-10 home mark the past four years. This is a return game for MSU, which claimed a 66-64 win in December 2011. Last season, Utah State was 21-10 with a 14-4 ledger at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
MSU also will play host to Florida Gulf Coast University.
"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 fourth 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, MSU will return home Nov. 14 and Nov. 19 to battle Kennesaw State University and Mississippi Valley State University, respectively. Following the trip to Utah State, MSU opens a three-game homestand, starting with Jackson State University on Nov. 27 and continuing with Loyola on Dec. 1 and Texas Christian University 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.
Before heading out to Vegas, MSU will play Florida A&M University on Dec. 17 followed by FGCU on Dec. 19. The Eagles' magical season ended with a 26-11 mark after advancing to the Sweet 16 with upset victories against Georgetown University and San Diego State University.
Then it's on to Las Vegas, where MSU will open with the University of South Florida, which is just two years removed from a Sweet 16 run. MSU then will play UNLV, another NCAA tournament team, or Santa Clara University, the reigning College Basketball Invitational champion, which went 26-12 last year.
After the Christmas break, MSU will wrap up its non-conference slate against first-time foe University of 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 said. "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. The SEC will announce the conference schedule in August.