Bulldogs hope Ben Howland’s success in California stays consistent

Mississippi State faces Liberty Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

MSU in NCAA tournament

SAN JOSE, CA (WLBT) - Mississippi State is the 5 seed in the East Region and will face the 12 seed Liberty on Friday for the first round of the NCAA tournament in San Jose, California.

This is the first trip to the Big Dance for the Bulldogs since 2009 and Friday’s game marks MSU’s second NCAA Tournament game in the state of California. The 1994-95 team fell to the eventual national champion (UCLA) in the Sweet 16.

MSU’s head coach Ben Howland has a lot of success in the Golden State. His teams have won all 10 of their NCAA Tournament games played in the state of California. But even for a coach that has been in the game over 20 years, Howland has never played Liberty before.

“Their front line is very good, and they’ve got great guard play and they can all shoot it," Ben Howland said about Liberty. "They space the floor, and they’re -- that’s why they’re here and why they’re a very good seed, especially when you consider it’s typically a one-bid league. So we know we’ve got a good challenge.”

Howland credited seniors Quinddary Weatherspoon and Aric Holman for getting MSU back in the Tournament. Q, Aric and Howland all got to Starkville at the same time.

“We came in with the aspect of knowing what we were coming in to,” Holman said. “We promised each other that we’re going to stick through this no matter what and get the program back on top.”

Weatherspoon added that it’s a great feeling for himself and Aric to make the Tournament.

Tip-off for MSU vs. Liberty is set for 6:27 p.m. central time at the SAP Center.

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