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Providence, MSU similar with rosters

December 1, 2012

Former Starkville High School player Gavin Ware (20) leads Mississippi State in rebounding with 7.7 boards per game. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Mississippi State and Providence have very similar basketball teams.

Both only have nine eligible players for today's SEC-Big East Challenge in Providence, R.I.

Tipoff at Dunkin' Donuts Center is set for 11 a.m. and can be seen on ESPNU.

"Providence is a little bit of a situation like us," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. "I believe they only have six scholarship guys available. They have a thin roster like we do. Unfortunately, they have experienced guys coming back in those six guys on scholarship. I've known (coach) Ed Cooley and he does a good job recruiting and coaching. We've just got to get our guys in the mentality to go out and compete."

Like the Bulldogs (2-4), the Friars (5-2) only have one senior in Vincent Council and he is not expected to start. The Bulldogs lone senior, Wendell Lewis, did not start in Tuesday's 60-42 victory over Alcorn State in Starkville.

The Friars have won two in a row, including a 61-42 victory over Holy Cross on Tuesday.

MSU is led by sophomore Roquez Johnson's 15.2 points per game. Freshman Fred Thomas is second with 11.3 points per outing.

Former Starkville High School player and freshman Gavin Ware paces the Bulldogs with 7.7 rebounds per game. 

"We have to continue to improve and understand our roles on the team," Ware said. 

The Bulldogs are shooting 38.9 percent from the field this season.

The Friars are led by junior Bryce Cotton's 24.3 points per game. Sophomore LaDontae Henton is averaging 16.1 points per outing and junior Kadeem Batts is averaging just under 15 points per contest.

Batts is leading Providence with 8.1 boards per game.

"It's another opportunity for us to get better," Ray said. "It's a challenge we are looking forward to."

The Bulldogs beat West Virginia 75-62 last year in the challenge in Humphrey Coliseum. MSU is 2-1 in this challenge and has a 10-14 record against the Big East.

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