Men's Basketball Preview: Mississippi State

South Florida (8-2) squares off against Mississippi State (8-2) tonight in the Las Vegas Classic, and USFNation.com previews the upcoming matchup.

Stan Heath and the South Florida Bulls (8-2) look to come out on top for the fifth consecutive game after they faceoff against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-2) this evening in Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at 8:00 at Orleans Arena. The 8-2 start to the season is the Bulls best start since the 2009-10 season.

Hailing out of the South Eastern Conference, coach Rick Ray and the Mississippi State Bulldogs have made their living on the defensive end of the court. Fresh off their third consecutive win this season, the Bulldogs allow just 64.1 point per game and rank ninth in the nation in steals, averaging 9.9 per game.

Leading their team in scoring in 2013 has been sophomore guard, Craig Sword. The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on 58 percent shooting. Sword has also scored in double figures in all but one game in 2013, and is rebounds at a good rate for size.

Upfront for the Bulldogs, Gavin Ware, a 6-foot-9, 268-pound sophomore forward, is the only other player on the roster that averages double figures. Ware does his damage in the paint and hasn't attempted a three-pointer all season. The big body in the post averages 10.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a game on 57 percent shooting, but shoots just 56.8 percent from the charity stripe.

Both Sword and White are the only two players on the Bulldogs' roster that haven started every game in 2013, which explains why they've been the only Bulldogs scoring in double figures.

These two teams last met in 1974 and the Bulldogs have a 2-0 advantage in the series.


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