*Kermit Davis, a former Bulldog player who coached State from 1971-77, will be honorary game captain. He was head coach when the Hump opened.
*Auburn owns a 70-63 lead in the series, and has won three of the last four meetings include a sweep in 2009 for their last win in Humphrey Coliseum. State is still 38-25 in all home games with Tiger teams.
*And, State has won 13 of the last 18 meetings.
*Stansbury is 14-10 against Auburn.
*MSU guard Dee Bost has averaged 20.5 points in his four games against Auburn, most of any Bulldog against any SEC opponent.
*New Auburn coach Tony Barbee coached at UTEP the last four seasons, including two years with forward Arnett Moultrie who is currently redshirting as a transfer at Mississippi State. Also, Bulldog freshman Jalen Steele signed with Auburn in November 2009 but after the coaching change was released, and signed with State.
The Opponent: Tony Barbee had to know exactly what he was walking into; not least of all a brand-new arena which signals Auburn hasn't given up on basketball. Though goodness knows it surely seemed that way over the past decade with no NCAA trips since 2003 and a lone NIT appearance. Winning the CUSA title—admittedly not a momentous feat last year—after four seasons at UTEP earned the longtime Memphis aide this SEC shot. Barbee also arrives just as almost the entire '10 lineup left, giving full freedom to rebuild with an all-underclassman roster. Seriously, there isn't a senior in sight here. For that matter the current lineup—the latest of six fielded so far--doesn't even include the lone returning regular starter, instead four Tigers who'd never seen a tipoff before are opening games now. Though, were he not nursing a knee injury junior guard Frankie Sullivan would be starting; when he was playing the Tigers went on a four-win streak to end pre-SEC play. His return is tentative for this week. Soph guard Earnest Ross has the most experience of the current starters, but has blossomed with this opportunity going from 2.8 scoring as a rookie backup to 12.3 points. And at 6-5 he's hitting the boards with abandon, better than any big man on this team and posting three double-doubles. Josh Langford was the top prospect in Alabama and is a fine freshman addition to the backcourt, and classmate Allen Payne knocked down 15 points at Kentucky in midweek play. Josh Wallace is a walk-on, but not playing like it; he's taken over at point guard quite well with four assists and is leading the SEC in steals. Junior Kenny Gabriel has started six games and will likely return to the lineup if he keeps up the scoring and shot blocking pace. Besides the new coach and new names, the offense now is not nearly as reliant on outside shooting as the past few years with just 31% of shots taken from the arc. That change was accelerated by the pre-SEC loss of top gunner guard Andre Malone and his 24 treys. It's an aggressive group on defense forcing turnovers to get easy points. The problem, still, is lack of sheer size and strength inside. But then that's something Barbee also expected as he gets busy building a ball club to fit its fine new home.
Projected Starting Lineups (full-season stats):
AUBURN: F Allen Payne, FR 6-6, 6.3ppg, 3.1rpg; F Rob Chubb, SO 6-10, 8.2ppg, 4.3rpg; G Josh Langford, FR 6-7, 5.5ppg, 3.3rpg; G Josh Wallace, SO 5-10, 5.1ppg, 4.1apg; G Earnest Ross, SO 6-5, 12.3ppg, 6.9rpg.
Top Reserves: F Kenny Gabriel, JR 6-8, 9.5ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.3blks; G Frankie Sullivan, JR 6-1, 8.2ppg, 3.0apg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Kodi Augustus, SR 6-8, 12.7ppg, 8.7rpg, 16 3ptrs; F Renardo Sidney, SO 6-10, 14.3ppg, 5.8rpg; G Dee Bost, JR 6-2, 19.5ppg, 6.5apg; G Ravern Johnson, SR 6-7, 18.3ppg, 45 3ptrs, 3.5rpg; G Riley Benock, SR 6-4, 7.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 35asts.
Top Backups: C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8, 4.1ppg, 3.9rpg, 18blks; G Brian Bryant, JR 6-2, 6.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 36asts; G Jalen Steele FR 6-3, 5.6ppg, 13 3ptrs.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 68.2, AUB 63.9
Scoring Defense: MSU 69.2, AUB 64.8
FG Shooting: MSU 41.5%, AUB 40.0
FG Defense: MSU 41.7%, AUB 42.7%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 33.3%, AUB 33.3%
3-point Attempts PG: MSU 22.5, AUB 16.8
Rebounding: MSU 37.2, AUB 35.6
Rebound Margin: MSU -0.4, AUB +1.7
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 69.9%, AUB 66.6%
Turnovers: MSU 13.5, AUB 14.4
BULLDOG NOTES: The Bulldogs' record is reflected in their shooting. In wins State has shot 44.1%, while they are just 38% shooters in losses.
*In fact, in their wins the Dogs have hit 38.6% on three-point attempts or better than their overall accuracy in defeats. In losses though they are just 26% at the arc.
*After scoring just one fastbreak basket in each of the previous five games, the Bulldogs got a pair of breakaway scores against Ole Miss.
*In their last eight games the Bulldogs have had more turnovers than assists.
*Getting another big body into the lineup has done wonders for State in rebounding, though, with a 38.4 average in the last five games.
*The key addition to the lineup of course is out on the perimeter. In his first two games after serving a semester suspension G Dee Bost has been making up for lost time with 39 points and 13 assists.
*Bost has started both games since activation; which means he has taken tipoff in all 74 games of his college career.
*He now has 357 career assists and just moved into a tie for 6th place on the MSU list with Jack Bouldin (1970-72). He needs 413 assists for top-five status.
*With 128 three-point goals Bost now needs just one more to catch Jamont Gordon (2006-08) for 10th place on the career chart.
*And he has 104 career steals.
*Bost is just a 38.1% shooter overall for his career, but is 34.1% at the arc.
*After struggling in his SEC debut with a single bucket, C/F Renardo Sidney exploded for 24 points at Ole Miss and shot 9-of-12. So in three of his four college games so far Sidney has scored double-digits.
*Sidney missed his first four outside attempts but at Oxford knocked down a pair of three-pointers.
*He is 9-of-12 at the foul line.
*G/F Ravern Johnson is mired in the worst extended shooting slump of his four State seasons. After hitting 34-of-72 at the arc the first eight games, he is just 11-of-49 in the last seven contests.
*Johnson began SEC season averaging a conference-best 20.1 points. He has scored 14 points in two SEC games and is averaging 18.3 now, dropping him to fourth in the league this week.
*But then the senior may be tiring already at mid-season. He played 77 of 80 possible minutes these past two games and leads the SEC with a 36.1 season average.
*With 222 career treys Johnson is third on the MSU chart, 36 behind Daryl Wilson (1994-96) for second place.
*Johnson does not have an assist the last three games.
*Johnson became the 32nd member of Mississippi State's 1,000 Point Club on the opening night of his senior season, ironically by scoring 32 points. He now has 1,243 career points which ranks Johnson 19th on the MSU list. One more bucket will tie him with Jerry Graves (1959-61) for 18th place.
*In his first three seasons, PF Kodi Augustus had a pair of double-doubles. But 16 games into his senior year he has seven, most in the SEC.
*Augustus has been a beast on the backboards with 54 rebounds in just the last five games.
*Augustus has scored double-digit points a dozen games this season.
*But after shooting 36.8% at the arc last winter, he's hitting just 26% there this season.
*No Dog gets to the foul line like Augustus has, and he's made 65 of 81 chances for a career-best 80.2% rate.
*Sophomore C Wendell Lewis got his first double-digit scoring game as a Bulldog against his home-state team, with 10 points off Alabama. Then he went scoreless in eight minutes at Ole Miss.
*Freshman G Jalen Steele is 22-of-29 at the free throw line, but hasn't been there yet in a SEC game.
*PG Brian Bryant had 14 points against Washington State on December 22, but has scored just nine total points in the five games since.