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Mississippi State (8-2) vs. South Florida (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 22, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (7,471) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: MSU 7-1, USF 6-2. Away Record: MSU 0-1, USF 2-0. Neutral Record: MSU 1-0, USF 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, USF 0-0. Series Record: Mississippi State leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of 8-2 teams get together in the desert today, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs clash with the South Florida Bulls as part of the Las Vegas Classic at Orleans Arena.
In the case of the Bulls, they are 2-0 away from home this season, taking down both Bowling Green and George Mason previously. Most recently, the team matched up with Florida A&M at home a few nights ago and barely slipped by in a 73-70 final. The victory was the fourth straight for the team.
As for the Bulldogs, they already have a pair of three-game win streaks to their credit in 2013-14, with one of those going on currently thanks to wins over SE Louisiana, the same Florida A&M squad and, three nights ago, a 66-53 triumph over Florida Gulf Coast.
The Bulldogs have a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series between the teams, posting an 86-81 win in the most recent meeting way back in 1974.
MSU was limited to just 66 points by Florida Gulf Coast at Humphrey Coliseum a few nights ago, but still the hosts were able to pick up the double-digit win nonetheless. Craig Sword tallied 17 points, one of five players in double figures for the Bulldogs, as he converted 6-of-8 shots from the floor, but a mere 5-of-11 at the free-throw line. I.J. Ready accounted for 12 points, while the trio of Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas and Roquez Johnson all dropped in 10 points in the victory.
The Bulldogs have shaken up the starting lineup quite a bit this season, with just two players making the cut for all 10 outings, they being Sword and Ware. With that, it only makes sense that they are the only players scoring in double figures at the moment with averages of 15.5 and 10.7 ppg, respectively. Ware is also first on the glass with 8.1 rpg, although the drawback to having him on the floor is that he is shooting just 56.8 percent at the charity stripe and has somehow come up with a mere two assists in more than 250 minutes of action.
The Rattlers of A&M certainly made things interesting for South Florida as their meeting featured six ties and 10 lead changes before the Bulls slipped by with the three-point victory at the Sun Dome. Corey Allen accounted for 22 points and six rebounds, followed by Victor Rudd with 19 points and 10 boards, while Anthony Collins, who didn't even bother to attempt a single field goal in 33 minutes, contributed eight assists.
Rudd, despite shooting a dismal 25.8 percent behind the 3-point line at this stage of the campaign, continues to not only lead the program in scoring with 15.7 ppg, he is also first on the glass with close to seven rebounds per game. Allen is adding 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 3.0 apg, not to mention posting a team- best 18 steals as the unit recorded 7.5 thefts per outing.
South Florida has been abysmal when it comes to attacking opponents on the perimeter, shooting just 26.9 percent from 3-point range, a stat that could certainly haunt the Bulls in Vegas today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 69, South Florida 65
12/22 11:00:13 ET