TCU preview

Sophomore point guard I.J. Ready is three games back from back surgery.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Sophomore point guard I.J. Ready is three games back from back surgery. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The debate over Mississippi State and TCU has been brewing for weeks now with both teams trying to position itself in the College Football Playoffs.

While it may not be settled on the gridiron, both the Bulldogs and Horned Frogs will meet on the hardwood with hardware on the line. The two teams square off in the championship game of the Corpus Christi Coastal Challenge at 6 p.m.

MSU is vying for its first in-season tournament title since winning the 2011 2K Sports Classic in New York City. The Bulldogs are 89-77 all-time during in-season tournaments.

It will be the fourth meeting between State and TCU with the Horned Frogs leading 2-1. TCU claimed a 71-61 victory in Starkville last season behind 20 points off the bench by guard Charles Hill Jr. (6-2, 185, Jr.). Craig Sword scored 24 points in a losing effort and was the only Bulldog in double figures.

Mississippi State is off to a 5-0 start to the season and reached the championship game with a 75-50 victory over St. Louis on Friday night. Junior wing Travis Daniels paced the Bulldogs with a career-high 21 points including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

Rick Ray’s roster is shooting 49.4 percent from the field and average 72 points per game this season. MSU is hitting 31.7 percent behind the arc and 74.2 percent from the free throw line. The Bulldogs are surrendering 56.6 points to their opponents on 30 percent shooting.

Junior forward Gavin Ware paces State with 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds while senior forward Roquez Johnson follows closely behind putting up 14.2 points and 5.4 boards.

Junior shooting guard Fred Thomas leads the backcourt with 13.2 points. Thomas is accompanied by senior point guard Trivante Bloodman scoring 8.6 points while Daniels is adding 8.4.

Sword, a junior shooting guard, gave the Bulldogs a boost with his return Friday coming off back surgery in October. State’s leading scorer the past two seasons logged 11 minutes but did not score.

TCU also enters tonight’s game undefeated at 6-0. The Horned Frogs took down Bradley 57-49 in the opening round game on Friday led by 10 points each by sophomore forward Kenrich Williams (6-7, 195) and senior guard Kyan Anderson (5-11, 175).

Former LSU coach Trent Johnson is in his third season at the helm of TCU.

The Horned Frogs are shooting 49 percent from the field and scoring 79.2 points per game. TCU is knocking down 40.4 percent of its shots from the outside and 64.1 percent from the charity stripe. Their opposition is scoring just 55.2 points on 34.5 percent shooting.

Anderson leads the Horned Frogs with 14.5 points while fellow guards Brandon Parrish (6-6, 185, So.) and Trey Zeigler (6-5, 203, Sr.) chip in 7.8 and 6.7 points respectively.

Sophomore forward Chris Washburn is putting up 8.2 points and grabbing 5.5 rebounds while sophomore center Karviar Shepherd is contributing 7.8 points and 7.3 boards.

Tonight’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network with Sean Grande and Bob Wenzel on the call.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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