||MSU announces non-conference men's basketball schedule
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) — Year 1 of the Ben Howland era at Mississippi State officially gets underway on Nov. 13 when Eastern Washington visits Humphrey Coliseum for the 2015-16 season opener.
The Bulldogs’ non-conference slate features 12 games, including six at home. They will also play times at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic, two on the road at Missouri-Kansas City (Dec. 12) and Florida State (Dec. 16), and a Dec. 23 date in Jackson, Miss., against Northern Colorado.
“I’m excited about our schedule,” Howland said. “Eastern Washington will be a tough opener. They were in the NCAA tournament last year and are very well coached. They have the core of their team returning, and they will prove to be a competitive start for us.”
The Eagles posted a 26-9 ledger a year ago after losing to Georgetown in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. They were also the regular-season Big Sky co-champions and won the conference tournament to earn the league’s automatic bid to the Big Dance.
After Eastern Washington, the Bulldogs battle Southern University (Nov. 26). Then it’s off to Puerto Rico Nov. 19-22 for three games. The bracket won’t be announced until early August, but the other teams competing are Butler, Miami, Minnesota, Missouri State, Temple, Texas Tech and Utah.
“That’s going to be a very strong tournament,” Howland said. “A lot of those teams you’ll see in the NCAA Tournament.”
After Puerto Rico, MSU returns home to face UT Martin (Nov. 28) and Texas Southern (Dec. 2) before the two-game road swing at Missouri-Kansas City and Florida State.
Sandwiched between Northern Colorado is a Dec. 19 showdown with Tulane and a Dec. 31 outing with North Carolina Central, both at the Hump. The Eagles also won the MEAC regular-season crown with a 16-0 conference mark.
“We will always play a game in Jackson every year when we are out of school for our fans and alumni in the Jackson area,” Howland said.
Mississippi State will also have an exhibition game Nov. 6 against Fort Valley State.
“Looking at the schedule, I think it will be rigorous and good for us in preparation for the SEC,” Howland said.
The SEC schedule is expected to be announced in late August.