BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- Mississippi State looks to continue its success as a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night when it faces No. 12 Butler in East Region first-round action.
Mississippi State (21-9) is making its sixth NCAA appearance and third as a No. 5 seed. It reached its lone Final Four in 1996 and also went to the Sweet 16 the year before as a fifth seed.
All-Southeastern Conference first team selection Mario Austin will be playing close to home. Austin hails from Sumter County, Alabama, which is approximately 100 miles from Birmingham.
Austin is averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds to lead Mississippi State. Austin has five double-doubles this season and is a finalist for a pair of national Player of the Year honors.
Mississippi State missed a chance at repeating as Southeastern Conference tournament champions after a 64-57 loss to Kentucky in Sunday's championship. Austin managed just nine points and six rebounds and missed a pair of key free throws down the stretch.
Besides Austin, Mississippi State features a pair of quality guards in Derrick Zimmerman and Timmy Bowers. Zimmerman needs three assists to pass Al Perry's school record of 510 and Bowers is averaging 14.8 points.
Butler (25-5) won the Horizon League regular-season title for the fourth straight season before losing in the championship game of the conference tournament. This time, Butler received an at-large berth after being snubbed by the NCAA selection committee a year ago.
Brandon Miller leads four senior starters with a 12.3 scoring average. Miller had the flu and played a season-low 27 minutes in Butler's last game, a 69-52 loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Starting center Joel Cornette averages 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds and has led Butler in scoring in six of his last 10 games. Miller and shooting guard Darnell Archey, who set a national record with 85 straight free throws this season, are each shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
The teams have never met and the winner will meet Louisville or Austin Peay in the second round on Sunday.