PORTLAND, Ore. – Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer remembers the team's last meeting with Arizona State as grueling. He expects much the same when the top-seeded Bulldogs face the Sun Devils, the fifth seed, on Friday night in the Sweet 16.
The teams played last season at the Cancun Challenge, with Mississippi State downing Arizona State 65-57. Teaira McCowan led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
"Know them well. I've played them several times throughout my career," Schaefer said. "We played them a year ago in the islands, had a knockdown, drag-out with them. … We were fortunate to win that one."
The Bulldogs (32-2) are making their fourth straight appearance in the Sweet 16 and they're vying to make a third straight Elite Eight. They have an experienced team led by 6-7 senior center McCowan, averaging 18.3 points and 13.5 rebounds.
Arizona State (22-10) is making its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The team has reached the final eight twice, in 2007 and 2009.
Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said Mississippi State is better than last season: "They're just really good at knowing who they are."
Second-seeded Oregon (31-4) plays No. 6 seed South Dakota State (28-6) in the late game Friday night. This is the first time SDSU — or any Summit League team — has made the Sweet 16. The Jackrabbits have won 18 straight games.
The Ducks defeated South Dakota State 87-79 on Dec. 12 in Brookings.