Rick Ray leads Mississippi State into his third season as the Bulldogs host Delta State in an exhibition game on Thursday to open the 2014-2015 campaign.
The 6 p.m. clash at Humphrey Coliseum can be viewed online on SEC Network +, with Bart Gregory and Matt Wyatt handling the broadcast.
Admission is free.
“I know our guys are just ready to play somebody else,” Ray said. “They’ve been going up against each other in practice every day and to be battling someone else will be refreshing.”
MSU returns five starters from last year’s squad that increased its win total by three games from the previous season. Gavin Ware led MSU in rebounding last season with 7.2 boards per game while also averaging 10.0 points an outing, good for second on the team.
Point guard I.J. Ready, who is out until mid-December following back surgery, led the Bulldogs with 2.7 assists in his freshman campaign. Roquez Johnson (9.7 points per game), Fred Thomas (9.3) and Trivante Bloodman (6.5) also provide veteran experience for Mississippi State.
Ray also welcomes seven newcomers to this year’s squad, including Travis Daniels and Fallou Ndoye, who both redshirted last season.
The Bulldogs will also be without the services of Craig Sword and Johnny Zuppardo on Thursday night. Sword, who has led MSU in scoring in each of the last two seasons, will be inactive for the first few games while recovering from back surgery, while Zuppardo will miss the season with a knee injury.
Delta State returns seven players from a team that finished 26-7 at the NCAA Division II level a year ago. Jack Schmidt led the Statesmen with 4.2 assists per game last season to go along with 15.1 points an outing.
Mississippi State holds a 15-1 advantage in the all-time series against Delta State. The last meeting came in 1987, as the Bulldogs earned a 68-56 win in Starkville.
MSU opens regular season play by hosting Western Carolina on Friday, Nov. 14. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.
(From MSU Media Relations)