Mississippi State and Southern Miss men’s basketball teams will play an exhibition game this fall, and tornado victims in the Mississippi Delta will benefit.

The game will be played at USM’s Reed Green Coliseum on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. 

It will mark the first time Mississippi State has played in Hattiesburg since 1995, the same season State later won the Southeastern Conference Tournament and then later advanced to the Final Four under Coach Richard Williams.

“This is something both schools are excited about. It will be great preparation for the season and at the same time raise some money for some Mississippians who really need some help,” Ladner said.

Much of the southern part of the Mississippi Delta is still reeling from the March 24 tornado that devastated Rolling Fork and Silver City with winds that reached 195 mph, killing 17 people and injuring scores of others. 

Jay Ladner Credit: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for America

The MSU-USM charity game began with discussions between Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner and State’s Chris Jans about playing a regular season game. When that didn’t work out, the two coaches first talked about a closed scrimmage but then landed on the idea of an open exhibition to help tornado victims.

“We’re excited about State coming to Hattiesburg and thankful to Coach Jans for helping make this happen,” Ladner said.

Southern Miss, defending Sun Belt Conference regular season champions, will be coming off a 25-8 season. State will be coming off a 21-13 record in Jans’ first season in Starkville. Mississippi State advanced to the NCAA Tournament. USM played in the NIT postseason tournament.

State leads the all-time rivalry 16-4 and won the last meeting between the schools 70-64 in December of 2017. They last played in Hattiesburg on Dec. 16, 1995, when Williams’ Final Four team defeated M.K. Turk’s last Southern Miss team 72-69 in overtime.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.