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Mississippi State men’s basketball begins NIT play against Virginia

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT.

Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The third-seeded Mississippi State men’s basketball team will travel to sixth-seeded Virginia to open National Invitation Tournament play on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT at John Paul Jones Arena on ESPN2. The Bulldogs are the away team due to the start of the Humphrey Coliseum renovation.

MSU and Virginia are paired with North Texas and Texas State in its four-team pod. North Texas won 67-63 in overtime on Tuesday and will play the winner of the MSU-Virginia game in the second round on either Saturday or Sunday.

The Bulldogs enter the postseason at 18-15 overall and 8-10 in Southeastern Conference play. Most recently, MSU fell to then-No. 9 Tennessee 72-59 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Sophomore guard Shakeel Moore led MSU with 15 points, while redshirt junior forward Tolu Smith added 14 points. Junior forward D.J. Jeffries scored 12 points and junior guard Iverson Molinar scored 10. Molinar was held to one point in the second half on 0-for-6 shooting.

Molinar leads MSU with 17.6 points a game, while Smith has averaged 14.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. Graduate forward Garrison Brooks is third on the team in scoring with 10.3 points and a team high 6.6 rebounds.

The Cavaliers are 19-13 overall and 12-8 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Cavaliers lost 63-43 to then-No. 25 North Carolina on Thursday in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Virginia is led by senior forward Jayden Gardner with 15.3 and 6.6 rebounds a game, while junior guard Armaan Franklin and senior guard Kihei Clark are putting up 10.9 and 10.3 points, respectively.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the fourth time all-time for MSU and Virginia on the hardwood, but the two programs are meeting for the first time since an 86-84 victory for MSU on Dec. 29, 1988. The Bulldogs lead the series 2-1.