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Friday, September 14, 2012
UNC opponent preview: Mississippi State

By Robbi Pickeral

As we count down to the first day of basketball practice (Oct. 12), let’s take a daily look at an opponent on North Carolina’s basketball schedule ...

Opponent: Mississippi State

Date: Nov. 19, 6 p.m. EST in the Maui Invitational

Game location: Lahaina Civic Center

Series results: UNC leads 5-0; last beat the Bulldogs 76-74 in the 2010 postseason NIT

Last season: MSU finished 21-12, 8-8 in the SEC

Foe to know: Rick Ray, MSU first-year head coach

Ray, formerly the associate head coach at Clemson, begins his first season in Starkville with an unenviable rebuilding year ahead. Dee Bost, the team's top assist man from last season, graduated. Starters Arnett Moutrie and Renardo Sidney left school early. Rodney Hood and DeVille Smith both transferred. Then freshman guard Jacoby Davis tore his ACL in July.

And then Ray kicked Shaun Smith and Kristers Zeidaks off the team for repeatedly violating team rules.

"The programs I've been at in Clemson and Purdue, we've held guys accountable and doing things the right way,’’ Ray told ESPN’s Andy Katz in early September. “Ultimately, that's the way you win and build programs."

It will be interesting to see how Ray puts it all together this season.

Tidbits: The winner/loser of this game will play the winner/loser of the Butler-Marquette matchup. ... For more on the Maui Invitational bracket, click here.

Previous schedule previews: Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.