Thursday, November 13, 2014

Basketball: WCU at Mississippi State

Who: WCU at Mississippi State
Where: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Mississippi
When:  6:30 ET
TV: SEC Network
Radio:  WCU none /  MSU  - WKBB (live audio streaming)

The Catamounts travel to Starkville, Mississippi on Friday to meet the Mississippi State Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference in the opening game for both teams.  This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

The Bulldogs were 14-19 last season overall and finished 14th in the SEC, but were 11-7 overall at home last season. The Bulldogs return all five starters:  Craig Sword (13.7 ppg), Fred Thomas (9.3 ppg), Trivante Bloodman (6.5 ppg), Gavin Ware (10.0 ppg), & IJ Ready (5.0 ppg). However the Bulldogs were struck with the injury bug before playing their first game. Craig Sword and I.J. Ready have both missed preseason practice following back surgery to repair bulging disks. Sword is expected to miss just one or two games, while Ready is expected back in mid-December. Junior college transfer Johnny Zuppardo is out for the year after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his left knee.

In an exhibition against Div II, Delta State, the Bulldogs won 72-51. Gavin Ware led MSU with 19 points on 9 of 13 from the field. Demetrius Houston added 12 points in his MSU debut, while Fallou Ndoye added 11 points in his first action.

MSU shot 48.1 percent from the floor, hitting 26 of 59 shots from the field (44.1 percent), 2 of 8 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 18 of 24 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). The Bulldogs ended the game with a 38-34 rebounding advantage, and had 15 assists and 12 turnovers.

In his third season at the helm of the Bulldogs, head coach Rick Ray was pleased with his team’s defensive intensity in the exhibition. He said he saw positive results from full-court pressure applied throughout the contest.

“I thought the guys came out with a great defensive intensity in the first half and that carried over to the offensive end,” Ray said. “It was good to be able to go out there and play against an opponent. In the second half they shot 47.8 percent. We really can’t have that. We have to keep up our defensive intensity for an entire game. “That is what happens with young guys. Sometimes, they lose focus when they get a big lead.”

Projected starters for Mississippi State are:
Trivante Bloodman, Sr, guard (6-0, 190)
Fred Thomas, Jr. guard (6-5, 206)
Travis Daniels, Jr. forward (6-8, 210)
Roquez Johnson, Sr. forward (6-7, 210)
Gavin Ware, Jr. forward (6-9, 260)

Coach Hunter's quotes courtesy