MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will meet SEC foe Mississippi State in the fourth annual Never Forget Tribute Classic presented by United Rentals, which is set for Saturday, December 14, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The matchup between the Wildcats and Bulldogs will be part of doubleheader in the Classic, which also includes a contest between reigning BIG EAST champion Villanova and Delaware. Both games will air on ESPN as well as the ESPN app with official broadcast information and game times to be announced later.
Tickets for the Classic go on sale to the public on Friday, July 26 at 9 a.m., CT through Ticketmaster.com and will be available for purchase at the Prudential Center Box Office on Monday, July 29 at 10 a.m., CT. For more information on the event, visit PruCenter.com/events.
The Classic, which began in 2016, serves as a partner with SoldierStrong, which was created in 2009 to support the men and women of the armed forces in the wake of the events on September 11, 2001. SoldierStrong helps to service American veterans by providing resources that aid both mental and physical rehabilitation, as well as assisting with scholarship grants for domestic and foreign affair grants. For more information on SoldierStrong, please visit soldierstrong.org/.
“We are excited to play in the Never Forget Classic and help raise awareness for such a noble cause,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “This will be a great opportunity for our team to face a very good Mississippi State squad, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and returns a significant portion of their team.”
This will be the fourth meeting between K-State and Mississippi State on the hardwood, but the first matchup in more than 25 seasons since the Wildcats knocked off the Bulldogs, 78-67, in the first round of the Postseason NIT on March 17, 1994 at Bramlage Coliseum. The other two meetings came in a home-and-home series during the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons with K-State winning 67-58 at home on December 5, 1984 and 63-58 in Starkville, Mississippi on December 14, 1985.
Under the guidance of fifth-year head coach Ben Howland, Mississippi State has won 48 games over the last two seasons, which is tied for the second-most in program history and the fourth among SEC schools during that span. The Bulldogs advanced to their first NCAA Tournament in 10 seasons a year ago, posting a 23-11 overall record and finishing sixth in the SEC with a 10-8 mark. The squad returns six players with starting experience, including senior guards Lamar Peters (11.9 ppg., 5.2 apg.) and Tyson Carter (10.4 ppg., 2.0 rpg.), All-SEC Freshman Team member Reggie Perry (9.7 ppg., 7.2 rpg.) and junior guard Nick Weatherspoon (9.6 ppg., 2.8 rpg.).
Weber is currently coaching Perry for Team USA, which will start play in the FIBA U19 World Cup on Saturday (June 29) against New Zealand in Heraklion, Greece. Perry was one of five players to make the World Cup roster who played college basketball during the 2018-19 season.
The reigning Big 12 regular-season co-champions, K-State is expected to return eight lettermen in 2019-20, which includes All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Xavier Sneed (10.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) and fellow senior Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg., 4.9 rpg.), from a squad that has posted consecutive 25-win seasons and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season a year ago.
The Wildcats also return rising juniors Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) and Levi Stockard III (1.8 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) as well as a highly-regarded signing class that includes a trio of Top 200 high school players in DaJuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy and NJCAA All-American David Sloan.
Villanova and Mississippi State will be playing in the Never Forget Classic for the second time. The Wildcats knocked off Notre Dame, 74-66, in the inaugural event in 2016, while the Bulldogs defeated Clemson, 82-71, last season in the second game of a doubleheader following Florida State’s 79-71 win over UConn.