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Mississippi State men’s basketball faces Richmond in NIT quarterfinals

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Tip time is slated for 5 p.m.

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

DENTON, Texas — The fourth-seeded Mississippi State men’s basketball team will face another Atlantic 10 Conference team on Thursday when it takes on second-seeded Richmond in a NIT quarterfinal game at the University of North Texas Coliseum. Tip time is slated for 5 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN2.

The winner of Thursday’s matchup advances to play either Louisiana Tech or Western Kentucky in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT at Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.

The Bulldogs (16-14, 8-10 SEC) defeated top-seeded Saint Louis 74-68 on Saturday behind 20 points from redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. and 19 from sophomore guard Iverson Molinar.

MSU shot 25-for-50 (50.0%) from the field, including 6-for-13 (46.2%) from 3-point range. The Bulldogs also made 18 of 23 (78.3%) from the free-throw line.

Molinar leads the Bulldogs with 16.7 points per game, while Stewart averages 16.0. Redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith is putting up 12.6 and a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game.

Richmond (14-8, 6-5 A10) defeated third-seeded Toledo 76-66 in the first round despite missing its top two scorers due to injury. Head coach Chris Mooney said he expects leading scorer Blake Francis, a graduate student guard, to be available after missing two games due to a hip injury. However, graduate student forward Grant Golden will not play again this season because of a fractured finger.

Francis is averaging 16.1 points per game. Senior guard Jacob Gilyard, who is averaging 11.9 points, had 18 points, five assists and four steals in the win over Toledo. He is Richmond’s career leader in assists (578) and leads the nation with 3.6 steals per game. Sophomore forward Tyler Burton and Senior forward Nathan Cayo are both averaging 12.4 points.

Thursday’s meeting between the Bulldogs and Spiders will be the fifth on the hardwood. The programs split the previous four meetings, with the Spiders winning 63-62 in 2009-10 at the South Padre Island Invitational in Texas.