Marquette (2-1) vs. Mississippi State (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Site: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400) -- Maui, Hawaii. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: MU 2-0, MSU 1-0. Away Record: MU 0-0, MSU 0-1. Neutral Record: MU 0-1, MSU 0-1. Conference Record: MU 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: After losing a heartbreaker in the first round, the Marquette Golden Eagles will try their luck against a different set of Bulldogs when they square off with Mississippi State in the second round of the Maui Invitational Tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center.
This will be the first meeting between these schools on the basketball court. The winner will play the victor of Texas and USC's second round bout. Both losers will square off as well.
The Golden Eagles were in front for a narrow margin for the majority of the second half in their first-round game versus Butler on Monday, but they could not put Brad Stevens's team away and it proved to be costly. The Golden Eagles held a one-point advantage with less than 10 seconds to play before Butler's Rotnei Clarke drove up the court and launched a deep three-pointer over suffocating defensive pressure to advance Butler to the semifinals. The buzzer-beater handed coach Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles their first loss of the season and sent them to the fifth-place bracket.
Just three games into his head coaching career, Rick Ray and his Bulldogs were given a chance to take down the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels. However, Mississippi State was unable to take advantage and quickly found itself down by a sizeable margin. The Bulldogs were able to net just seven field goals in the first half and shot 28.3 percent from the floor for the game. UNC did what it wanted on both ends of the floor on the way to its 95-49 decision. Ray's Bulldogs will now have to try to climb back to a .500 record in this one.
Despite being in a back-and-forth battle on Monday, Marquette should not be affected by fatigue too much as Williams is employing a deep, 10-man rotation so far this season. MU's star seniors Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder both averaged more that 32 minutes per game last season, but no Golden Eagles are averaging more than 29 minutes per contest so far. Junior guard Vander Blue will make it difficult for Williams to bench him if he continues to perform like he did on Monday. Blue shot 20 percent from the field to score 12 total points in his first two games of the season, but he led MU with 21 points on 7- of-14 shooting versus Butler. Point guard Junior Cadougan added 14 points and the highly efficient Davante Gardner provided 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench in 16 minutes.
The Bulldogs clearly lacked a leader on the floor in the first round. They will need much more steady play from sophomore point guard Trivante Bloodman, who made only two of his seven field goal attempts and turned the ball over a season-high five times. Forward Roquez Johnson went 4-of-13 from the field for a team-high 12 points, but that will hardly be a strong enough performance from a top performer in a prestigious tournament like the Maui Invitational. All of MSU's players had trouble finding any success versus the Tar Heels' defense on Monday. Fred Thomas made just 1-of-10 from three-point range, Tyson Cunningham went scoreless in 26 minutes of action, three different players turned the ball over five times, and the team managed just six total assists.
The Golden Eagles should be able to bounce back and cruise past Mississippi State without too much difficulty. The Bulldogs are going to be a work in progress until Ray can pull his team together and identify a leader. Blue played with a boat load of confidence on Monday. Look for the junior shooting guard to aim for the 20-point mark once again in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marquette 74, Mississippi State 60
11/20 10:34:40 ET