STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - After a six-year absence, Mississippi State is back in postseason play.
Sunday night, the Bulldogs garnered an NIT bid and will play host to Nebraska at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, with the winner facing Baylor or Wagner in the second round.
It’s the ninth time for MSU to play in the NIT and its first since dropping a 101-96 double-overtime decision in the opening round against UMass in 2012.
All-time, Mississippi State is 7-8 with its best finish a semi-final run to New York City in 2007 that ended on a buzzer-beating loss to West Virginia, 63-62.
Combined with the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs are 18-18 in the postseason.
“We're excited to be in the postseason. It's a big step for us,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. “Nebraska's had some fine wins in their league. They're an older group of guys, so they've been through a lot since we saw each other late in October.”
For Howland, his Year 3 magic continues. In all four of his coaching stops, including Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh and UCLA, he’s guided teams to the postseason in his third year at the helm.
His latest rebuilding effort at Mississippi State saw the Bulldogs finish seventh in the SEC standings with a 9-9 ledger after placing 12th in 2017. Overall this year, MSU is 22-11, it’s most wins since having 21 in 2012.
Mississippi State had two players receive All-SEC honors. Junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who leads his team with a 14.8 scoring clip, was named second-team All-SEC, while his brother Nick was tabbed to the SEC All-Freshmen squad after averaging 11.1 points. He is also third with 67 assists and 13 steals.
The eldest Weatherspoon also won the 2018 Howell Trophy, which is presented annually to the top male collegiate player in Mississippi.
“We’ve worked hard all year to get to postseason,” the elder Weatherspoon said. “We’re not just satisfied to be here. Our goal is to get to New York and win it all. When we are playing our best, we can beat anyone. I know we’re all excited about this opportunity.”
The Cornhuskers come to Starkville sporting a 22-10 overall record and a 13-5 mark in Big 10 play. All-Big 10 standout James Palmer leads Nebraska with his 17.3 scoring clip, followed by Isaac Copeland at 12.9.
The only meeting between the two came in 1996, with MSU claiming a 69-66 win at the Ford Far West Classic in Portland, Ore. Back in October, the two met in exhibition play, with the Cornhuskers holding on for a 76-72 win.