Florida Atlantic (0-1) at Mississippi State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 13, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Humphrey Coliseum (10,500) -- Starkville, Mississippi. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 0-0, Mississippi St. 0-0. Away Record: FAU 0-1, Mississippi St. 0-1. Neutral Record: FAU 0-0, Mississippi St. 0-0. Conference Record: FAU 0-0, Mississippi St. 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Mississippi State Bulldogs aim to avoid their first 0-2 start to a season since the 1967-68 campaign, as they welcome the Florida Atlantic Owls to the Humphrey Coliseum as part of the Maui Invitational.
Rick Ray is in his first season in Starkville and certainly didn't envision a season-opening loss at Troy, but that's exactly what happened on Friday, as MSU fell to the Trojans on the road, 56-53. Ray is not the only new face in Starkville, as only five players return from last year's squad that finished with 21 victories. To make matters worse, MSU lost a pair of freshmen prior to the start of the season, as both Jacoby Davis and DeAndre Applewhite tore ACLs.
Mike Jarvis is in his fifth season at the helm of Florida Atlantic. The Owls have an ambitious early season slate that started with Sunday's 80-56 loss at then 11th-ranked North Carolina.
These two teams are meeting for just the third time, with each team winning one prior meeting. The two previous matchups have been decided by a scant nine combined points. The last meeting resulted in a 75-68 win by Mississippi State in 2011.
Despite shooting a mere .250 from the floor in the first half, Florida Atlantic kept things relatively close with North Carolina in Chapel Hill this past weekend, trailing 32-24 at the break. Unfortunately for FAU, while the Owls continued their shooting woes in the second half, UNC heated up, converting 54.5 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes to run away with the game. Greg Gantt was the only Owl to finish in double-figure scoring, hitting four three-pointers and posting 18 points. Dragan Sekelja and Pablo Bertone just missed the mark with nine points apiece. Jordan McCoy netted just two points in the loss, but led FAU with 10 rebounds, including five at the offensive end.
MSU trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, and despite a strong comeback bid, the Bulldogs fell short in the end, losing by three points at Troy Arena. Despite a total of just 53 points, three Bulldogs notched double figures in the loss. Jalen Steele led the team with 16 points, off a 5-of-12 shooting performance. Steele is the team's top returning scorer and looks to be the go-to-guy again in 2012-13. Trivante Bloodman and Gavin Ware tacked on 11 and 10 points, respectively. Mississippi State was done in by 16 turnovers, while also coming out on the losing end of a 34-33 rebounding edge by Troy.
Mississippi State will take some time to fit the new pieces into the system Ray has instilled. It won't be pretty at times, but getting this one at home should tip the scales in the Bulldogs' favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 67, Florida Atlantic 62
11/13 10:37:35 ET