June 1, 2012
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - It was announced today that the Providence College men's basketball team will host Mississippi State on Saturday, December 1 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the early season three-day men's basketball event matching 12 teams from each of the premier conferences against each other. The times of all the games and the networks that will televise the contests have not been determined.
The Friars have never faced Mississippi State. However, Providence has posted an 11-16 mark all-time versus SEC squads, including a 76-67 win at South Carolina last season in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge on December 1. Mississippi State registered a 21-12 mark and advanced to the First Round of the NIT last season. The Bulldogs recorded an 8-8 mark and finished tied for sixth in the SEC in 2011-12. The team returns six of nine letter winners, including junior guard Jalen Steele. Steele averaged 8.7 ppg last season in 23.7 minutes per game. The squad will be guided by first-year Head Coach Rick Ray.
Providence, which boasts the sixth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, recorded a 15-17 mark last year (4-14 in the BIG EAST). Head Coach Ed Cooley's squad will be led by BIG EAST All-Rookie selection LaDontae Henton (Lansing, Mich.) and Third Team All-BIG EAST point guard Vincent Council. Henton averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds last season. Council led the Friars in scoring (15.9 ppg) and for the second consecutive season led the BIG EAST in assists (7.5 apg). He also ranked fourth in nation in assists per game.
The Friars will be helped by a strong recruiting class. Two of Cooley's top recuits are top-25 players Kris Dunn (New London, Conn.) and Ricky Ledo (Providence, R.I.). The two guards were named to a number of All-America teams, including McDonald's, Jordan Brand Classic, Parade, and Slam Magazine.
The BIG EAST contingent in the Challenge will include Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse and Villanova. Six of the BIG EAST's 12 participating teams reached the NCAA Championship last season. The SEC has four participating teams that reached the NCAA tournament.
The BIG EAST won last year's event by capturing eight wins over the SEC. The Challenge marks an expansion and modification of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational that featured four matchups between the two conferences from two neutral sites from 2007-10. Over the four years of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, the conferences - which each won eight games over the four years - split the series in 2008 and 2009 and each won one (SEC in 2010 and BIG EAST in 2007).
Since 1999, the SEC (six) and the BIG EAST (nine) have combined for 15 Final Four appearances and seven national titles: Connecticut (1999, 2004 and 2011), Florida (2006 and 2007), Kentucky (2012) and Syracuse (2003).
Fans interested in purchasing season tickets to Providence College men's basketball can visit Friars.com or call 401-865-GoPC.
Thu, Nov 29 Kentucky at Notre Dame
Marquette at Florida
South Carolina at St. John's
Seton Hall at LSU
Fri, Nov 30 Syracuse at Alabama
Tennessee at Georgetown
DePaul at Auburn
Georgia at USF
Sat, Dec 1 Alabama at Cincinnati
Villanova at Vanderbilt
Mississippi State at Providence
Rutgers at Mississippi