May 13, 2014 11:03:04 AM
STARKVILLE -- In a continued effort to add competitiveness to his team's non-conference schedule, Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray on Monday announced a home-and-home deal with Florida State.
Ray, the Bulldogs' third-year coach, announced on Twitter that MSU will play FSU on Jan. 2, 2015, at Humphrey Coliseum. MSU will return the game 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, went 22-14 last season and reached the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament before losing to eventual champion Minnesota. The Seminoles, who will welcome Phil Coker, a four-star recruit according to ESPN.com, also will return several key pieces from last season, including sophomore guard Aaron Thomas, the team's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game.
The programs have split eight games. The most recent was an 86-71 victory for MSU in Starkville in the 2006 NIT. FSU is 2-0 against MSU at home.
The announcement comes less than a month after MSU announced a home-and-home deal with Oregon State. MSU will play Dec. 15, 2014, in Corvallis, Oregon.
The matchups against FSU and OSU, both members of Power 5 conferences, figure to help MSU improve the strength of its non-conference schedule. Last season, MSU had the easiest non-conference strength of schedule in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy's college basketball rating system. The Southeastern Conference has been working to get its men's basketball teams to improve the strength of their non-conference schedules. In 2013, the SEC hired consultant Greg Shaheen to assist schools with 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.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
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