Preview Capsule: Washington State vs. Mississippi St.

Ravern Johnson (right) and Mississippi State face the Cougars in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic. AP

Tipoff: Today, noon PST, University of Hawaii, Honolulu (ESPNU)

Records: Washington State 8-1 overall, 0-0 Pac-10 Conference; Mississippi State 7-3 overall, 0-0 Southeastern Conference

Players: Ravern Johnson, a lengthy guard at 6-foot-7, leads Mississippi State with a line of 22.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Touted recruit Renardo Sidney, a 6-foot-10 center who was suspended by the NCAA all of his true freshman year and nine games this season after receiving improper benefits and providing false information to investigators, played his first game against Virginia Tech last week. He was suspended for today’s tilt with WSU, however, after an undeclared incident in practice on Monday.

Klay Thompson (21 ppg, 4.3 apg), who had 19 points and 10 rebounds in WSU’s 63-52 win over the Bulldogs two years ago as freshman, leads the Cougars.

Game themes: Washington State will get to test its mettle on a national stage before the rigors of Pac-10 play in the eight-team Diamond Head Classic. The Cougars, who nipped Santa Clara on Sunday to open a two-week, six-game road stretch, face an MSU team today which was clubbed 88-57 by Virginia Tech. The winner will most likely face 15th-ranked Baylor in the second round. The tournament features WSU, MSU, Baylor, San Diego, Butler, Utah, Florida State and Hawaii. USC won the tournament title a year ago.

He said it: “We’re coming into this tournament with a bit of a chip on shoulder. We feel we’re a good team and we have a chance to prove that.” – Faisal Aden

Linkage: The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger advances today’s WSU-MSU matchup and expands on the suspension of  Sidney here and his use of twitter here. The host newspaper Honolulu Advertiser has its Hawaii advance  onthe tournament as well as team-by-team capsules. Per usual, Vince Grippi of the Spokesman-Review gives his angle.

TV SCHEDULE: Wednesday
Game 1: Mississippi State vs. WSU – Noon, ESPNU
Game 2: San Diego vs. Baylor – 2 p.m., ESPNU
Game 3: Utah vs. Butler – 8 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Game 4: Florida State vs. Hawaii – 10 p.m., ESPNU

Thursday
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 1:30 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Game 6: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 7 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Game 8: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 9:30 p.m., ESPNU

Saturday
Game 9 (Seventh Place): Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8 – 11 a.m., NO TV
Game 10 (Fifth Place): Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 8 – 1:30 p.m., NO TV
Game 11 (Third Place): Loser Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7 – 4:30 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Game 12 (Championship): Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7 – 6:30 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN3.com

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