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Mississippi State meets La. Tech in NIT semifinals on Saturday

Tip time is set for 2 p.m.

AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

FRISCO, Texas — The fourth-seeded Mississippi State men’s basketball team is set to meet fourth-seeded Louisiana Tech on Saturday in an NIT semifinal game at Comerica Center. Tip time is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN.

The Winner of Saturday’s game advances to the championship game on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Comerica Center, while the third-place game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Both games will be televised by ESPN.

Mississippi State (17-14, 8-10 SEC) reached the NIT Final Four after a 74-68 win over top-seeded Saint Louis in the first round and a 68-67 victory over second-seeded Richmond in the quarterfinals.

Last time out, redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. drained a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left to give MSU the 68-67 win over the Spiders. He finished with 22 points and five assists and made all 10 of his free throws. Sophomore guard Iverson Molinar added 18 points and seven rebounds, while redshirt senior forward Abdul Ado finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.

Molinar leads the team with 16.8 points, while Stewart is averaging 16.2. Redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith is averaging 12.6 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds. However, his availability is uncertain as he missed Thursday’s game due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.

Louisiana Tech (23-7, 12-4 C-USA) reached the semifinals with a 70-61 win over top-seeded Ole Miss in the first round and a 72-65 win over third-seeded Western Kentucky on Thursday.

Louisiana Tech set a program postseason record against Western Kentucky, making 11 3-pointers on 61.1% shooting from 3-point range. Redshirt senior guard Kalob Ledoux went 6 of 7 from 3-point range and finished with 20 points.

The blue and red Bulldogs are led by sophomore forward Isaiah Crawford with 11.8 points and 5.1 rebounds. Ledoux is averaging 11.5 points, while freshman forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. is putting up 11.4 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds.

Saturday’s meeting will be the 16th on the hardwood for the two Bulldog programs. MSU owns a 10-5 edge, but Louisiana Tech picked up a 74-67 road win over MSU in 2019. Both programs are looking to make the championship game for the first time in program history. MSU lost its two previous NIT semifinal games, most recently in 2018.