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Mississippi State men’s basketball ready for showdown with Minnesota

Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.

Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State men’s basketball team will welcome an undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers team to Humphrey Coliseum for a Sunday showdown at 1 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

The Bulldogs (6-1) are coming off a 75-60 win over Lamar on Thursday and are looking for their third straight win.

Redshirt junior forward Tolu Smith scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Thursday’s win and has had two double-doubles in his first three games of the season since returning from foot surgery. Junior guard Iverson Molinar led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points, while junior guard Rocket Watts had his best game as a Bulldog, finishing with 15 points.

Molinar has led the way for MSU with 16 points and 4.7 assists per game, while Smith has put up 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. Sophomore guard Shakeel Moore has accounted for 11.3 points and 2.4 steals per game and graduate forward Garrison Brooks is averaging 10.7 points and seven rebounds.

The Golden Gophers (6-0) are coming off a 54-53 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Minnesota, under the guidance of first-year head coach Ben Johnson, has a trio of players scoring in double figures. Sophomore forward Jamison Battle leads the way with 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while senior guards Payton Willis and E.J. Stephens have put up 16.3 and 11 points per game, respectively.

The trio has made 41 of Minnesota’s 43 3-pointers for the season. Stephens is shooting 47.8% from 3-point range, while Willis is shooting 42.9% and Battle 31.3%.

Sunday’s meeting between the Bulldogs and Gophers will be the first on the hardwood. Minnesota last played a Southeastern Conference team on Dec. 9, 2017, when it lost to Arkansas 95-79.