The Rick Ray era of Mississippi State basketball will begin on the road.
The Bulldogs travel to Troy, Ala. to take on the Trojans on Nov. 9 to open the 2012 season. It will be the first time since 2005 that MSU opens a season away from the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum. The trip is part of the inaugural weekend for the state-of-the-art Trojan Arena.
On Nov. 13, State returns home to take on Florida Atlantic, which marks the first of six home non-conference contest. All totaled, the Bulldogs face 11 non-conference foes, plus an exhibition game with William Carey.
“Looking at the schedule, there’s no question it’s going to be challenging,” Ray said in a release. “We play a lot of games early on the road, but I think that will present an invaluable opportunity for this team to bond and will help us prepare for SEC play.”
The highlight for the non-conference portion for MSU will be a trip to the Maui Invitational slated for Nov. 19-21. State plays North Carolina in the opening round in Hawaii and meets either Butler or Marquette in round two.
“We’ll learn a lot about ourselves as a team early on,” Ray said.
The Bulldogs return to the Hump on Dec. 4 against Texas-San Antonio, but following the exam break, they hit the road again, this time to Chicago on Dec. 15 to face Loyola to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the schools’ historic showdown in the 1963 NCAA Tournament.
From there, MSU is back in the Magnolia State to battle Central Arkansas on Dec. 22 at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson before concluding non-conference play at Humphrey Coliseum against Alabama A&M on Dec. 30 and New Orleans on Jan. 3.
“Our roster features a lot of new faces, and this type of non-conference schedule will give them the chance early to see what college basketball is all about,” Ray said.
The Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule is expected to be announced in the next two weeks.