Kansas State’s men’s basketball knows the identity of another non-conference foe next season.
K-State will take on Mississippi State in the fourth annual Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Dec. 14.
The matchup between the Wildcats and Bulldogs will be part of a doubleheader at the event, which also includes a game between defending Big East champion Villanova and Delaware. Both contests will air on ESPN as well as the ESPN app. Game times will be announced later.
The Classic, which started in 2016, serves as a partner with SoldierStrong, created in 2009 to support the men and women of the armed forces in the wake of the events on September 11, 2001. SoldierStrong services American veterans by providing resources that aid both mental and physical rehabilitation, as well as assisting with scholarship grants for domestic and foreign affair grants.
“We are excited to play in the Never Forget Classic and help raise awareness for such a noble cause,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said in a release Friday. “This will be a great opportunity for our team to face a very good Mississippi State squad, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and returns a significant portion of their team.”
It will be the fourth meeting between the Wildcats and Bulldogs. The last meeting was 25 seasons ago, with K-State taking a 78-67 win in the first round of the Postseason NIT at Bramlage Coliseum on March 17, 1994. The other two matchups came in a home-and-home series in back-to-back seasons during the 1984-85 and 1985-86 campaigns. The Wildcats won 67-58 at home on Dec. 5, 1984, before the Bulldogs avenged the loss in a 63-58 victory in Starkville, Mississippi, on Dec. 14, 1985.
Mississippi State has won 48 games over the last two seasons — tied for the second-most in program history and fourth among SEC schools during that span — under head coach Ben Howland. The Bulldogs advanced to their first NCAA Tournament in 10 seasons a year ago, going 23-11 overall and finishing sixth in the SEC with a 10-8 mark.
The Bulldogs bring back six players with starting experience, including senior guards Lamar Peters (11.9 points per game, 5.2 assists per game) and Tyson Carter (10.4 ppg, 2 rebounds per game), freshman All-SEC selection Reggie Perry (9.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and junior guard Nick Weatherspoon (9.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg). Perry is playing for Team USA, which Weber is coaching in the FIBA U19 World Cup, which began Saturday in Heraklion, Greece. Perry was one of five players to make the World Cup roster who played college basketball last season.
The reigning Big 12 regular-season co-champions, K-State is expected to return eight lettermen in the 2019-20 season, including All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Xavier Sneed (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Sneed will be joined by fellow senior Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) along with rising juniors Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and Levi Stockard III (1.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg).
The Wildcats also welcome a freshman class boasting a trio of top-200 prospects in DaJuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy as well as junior college All-American David Sloan.