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Utah State basketball to face Mississippi State in pre-Christmas matchup

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Utah State head coach Craig Smith calls out to players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida, part of the Orange Bowl Classic tournament, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla. Utah State defeated Florida 65-62. Smith’s team will be headed back to Florida this December, when they’ll face Mississippi State on the campus of Gulf Coast Community College.


SALT LAKE CITY — Last year, the Utah State men’s basketball team headed to Florida for a pre-Christmas matchup. The result was a resume-building win for the Aggies over the SEC’s Florida Gators.

They’ll be doing the same thing this season, facing another SEC opponent, as USU announced Wednesday the Aggies will play Mississippi State on Dec. 21 in Panama City Beach, Florida, on the campus of Gulf Coast Community College.

It will be the fourth matchup between Utah State and Mississippi State in school history and the first at a neutral site. The Bulldogs own a 2-1 record over the Aggies, twice winning their contests in Starkville, Mississippi, while USU beat Mississippi State in Logan during the 2013-14 season.

The Aggies will head to the East Coast numerous times during their 2020-21 nonconference schedule, which also includes a road game at Davidson on Dec. 1, and playing in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in South Carolina from Nov. 19-22, along with Charlotte, Dayton, Loyola (Chicago), Missouri, Nebraska, Penn and Pittsburgh.

Utah State is coming off a 26-8 season, which included winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament and earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While Sam Merrill — who finished his Aggies career as the program’s No. 2 all-time scorer — was a senior in 2019-20, center Neemias Queta announced earlier this offseason he would return for his junior year in Logan. Queta averaged 13 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in 22 games for USU last season.

Mississippi State finished last year 20-11, with a 11-7 mark in SEC play.