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Mississippi State men’s basketball faces Iowa State in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Game time is set for 5 p.m. CT.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State men’s basketball team hosts the Iowa State Cyclones during Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge at Humphrey Coliseum. Tip time is slated for 5 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN2.

The Bulldogs (9-8, 4-5 SEC) enter the contest coming off a 56-53 road loss to No. 18 Tennessee on Tuesday. Sophomore guard Iverson Molinar finished that game with 16 points, while redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. added 11. The duo combined for 25 of MSU’s 52 shot attempts.

Stewart leads MSU with 17.6 points per game, while Molinar is second with 17.4. Redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith is averaging 12.7 points and a Southeastern Conference-leading 8.6 rebounds.

The Bulldogs are making their third appearance in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and will be looking to pick up their first win in the challenge. MSU dropped a 71-61 decision to TCU during the first year of the event in 2013-14 and fell 63-62 to Oklahoma last season in Oklahoma City.

Iowa State (2-8, 0-6 Big 12) returned to action Monday after a two-week stretch of not playing basketball due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Cyclones played against Oklahoma State with only eight available players, including just six scholarship players, and wound up losing 81-60.

“Our guys are doing well,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “We could have one more guy back possibly. Whether they play or not, I’m not sure. But we’ll have more guys on the trip for sure. It’s just the ability to play.”

Junior guard Rasir Bolton leads the Cyclones with 15.2 points per game to go with 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He finished with 19 points in Monday’s loss.

Iowa State was without a trio of double-digit scorers in senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (12.7), redshirt junior forward Javan Johnson (12.2) and redshirt senior forward Solomon Young (12.0).

Saturday’s meeting between the Bulldogs and Cyclones is the third on the hardwood. MSU defeated Iowa State 80-70 during the 1978-79 season and 84-63 during the 1979-80 season.