*These Bulldogs tie the 2002 team for most pre-conference victories of the Rick Stansbury era. And this is the eighth of his 14 teams that have begun SEC season with double-digit wins.
*Under Stansbury, the Bulldogs are 10-3 in SEC openers and on a four-year win streak.
*Stansbury now ranks 9th in career victories among all SEC coaches with 285, and is second of active league coaches. He needs 297 wins to tie for 7th place.
The Opponent: After a couple of unsatisfactory tenures, not to mention missing the NCAA the last three years, Arkansas is starting over by reaching back into the past. Mike Anderson, the familiar sideline assistant from 1985-2002, has returned to Fayetteville. His record away from there produced 180 wins and six NCAA trips at UAB and Missouri. But not in the first season each time, and that trend seems sure to follow in year-one with Arkansas. Bad enough that three of last year's five scoring leaders are gone, but an early-season injury to junior big forward Marshawn Powell leaves no centerpiece to build around. Fortunately Anderson scheduled a lot of show-up wins that has been helpful while revamping what Razorbacks are available. They even come in on a six-win streak, though none of the victims show up among the top-100 RPI lists lately. In a major—and how—rebuilding project the simplest starting point is defense, and Arkansas has done well there. They haven't given up 70 points in a win yet…though that is also the benchmark in the three losses, too. It begins with pressure on the ball, full- or half-court, and has helped produce 255 turnovers and 124 steals already. It isn't all man-on-man either as zones are a more familiar sight these days. Scoring? Well, points aren't easy to come by against quality competition, but the backcourt is doing what it can. The young backcourt, that is. B.J. Young is one of the SEC's better rookies with a 14.1 point average, knocking down 43% at the arc and 50% overall. He's done this off the bench mostly but looks to stick in the lineup from now on. Young joins the trio of sophomore guards left by the previous staff, with Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott also starting. Julysses Nobles, the Jackson native, was; but has been in a deep shooting slump and was a sub the last game. Closer to the goal stout frosh DeVonta Abron has been forced to take on as much of Powell's load as his 250-pound shoulders can carry, with frosh Hunter Mickelson subbing-in for defense (36 blocks) and not a lot else. Yes, Michael Sanchez is still around, a senior now and starting. That as much as anything reflects the rebuild job Anderson has ahead of him, and why post-season status is a year or more away for Arkansas still.
Projected Starting Lineups:
ARKANSAS: F Michael Sanchez, SR 6-9 235, 4.6ppg, 3.8rpg; F Devonta Abron, FR 6-8 250, 6.5ppg, 5.1rpg; G B.J. Young, FR 6-3 175, 14.1ppg, 23 3ptrs; G Rickey Scott, SO 6-3 195, 11.0ppg, 3.9rpg, 36 asts; G Mardracus Wade, SO 6-3 175, 11.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 33 3ptrs.
Top Reserves: C Hunter Mickelson, FR 6-10 236, 5.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 36 blks; G Julysses Nobles, SO 6-1 174, 7.7ppg, 4.0rpg, 50 asts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Rodney Hood, FR 6-8 200, 12.3ppg, 5.4rpg, 33.5mins; F Arnett Moultrie, JR 6-11 249, 16.8ppg, 11.4rpg; C Renardo Sidney, JR 6-10 285, 10.4ppg, 4.8rpg; G Dee Bost, SR 6-2 175, 15.9ppg, 66 asts, 33 3ptrs; G Jalen Steele, SO 6-3 195, 7.5ppg, 23 3ptrs.
Top Backups: C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8 253, 5.7ppg, 4.6rpg, 16 blks; G Brian Bryant, SR 6-3 168, 8.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 23 asts; G Deville Smith, FR 5-11 165, 5.0ppg, 37asts.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 74.8, ARK 76.9
Scoring Defense: MSU 63.1, ARK 63.9
FG Shooting: MSU 47.1%, ARK 43.5%
FG Defense: MSU 41.0%, ARK 37.9%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 35.0%, ARK 33.7%
3-point Attempts PG: MSU 264, ARK 286
Rebounding: MSU 38.3, ARK 39.5
Rebound Margin: MSU 4.5, ARK 1.4
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 69.0%, ARK 70.0%
Turnovers: MSU +0.8, ARK +4.4
BULLDOG NOTES: If the SEC had a Player of the Half-Year, PF Arnett Moultrie would surely take the prize. For that matter the junior transfer must be the league's newcomer of the season to-date, too, having averaged a double-double in the fall semester.
*Moultrie has put up double-digit points and rebounds in eight of the 12 games played, which not only leads the league but is tied for first nationally.
*He is trying to become the third Bulldog in eight years to average a double-double for a season. Jarvis Varnado did it in 2010 and Lawrence Roberts in both 2004 and '05.
*His 11.4 rebounds are tops in the SEC as league play begins, and 6th-best in the NCAA stats this week. Moultrie actually has more double-digit rebounds games than points so far, ten to nine.
*In a six-game stretch, twice interrupted by sitting out contests, Moultrie shot 43-of-60. But in his last two contests he is ‘just' 9-of-21 from the floor.
*Still he's been outstanding at the foul line with a 87% average for the season so far.
*And Moultrie is drawing less than two fouls per-game on the season.
*PG Dee Bost has made the next cut for the Cousy Award given the country's top hardcourt quarterback. The senior is among 20 finalists for the honor now.
*Bost picked up this senior season where he left off the last year, with six assists in the opener. He now has 66 in 15 games.
*And he capped pre-SEC season by becoming the program's all-time assists leader, surpassing the 514 of Derrick Zimmerman (2000-03). Bost now has 516 going into the last half of his final season.
*And he is climbing on up the career three-point chart as well. His 195 treys are fifth all-time, just two behind Timmy Bowers.
*Bost has started all 104 games of his four State seasons.
*Bost hasn't fouled-out since his sophomore season.
*He is on the way to a best career year in steals, too, with 34 already. He had 52 as a rookie. Bost is 5th in career thefts now at 161.
*Bost is now 15th in career scoring at 1,358 points and having the best season of his college tenure at 15.9 per game. He averaged 15.3 as a junior playing just a half-schedule.
*Until this season Bost was the most recent true freshman to start a season-opener. SF Rodney Hood now claims that status, and has more than met the opportunity. The rookie has scored double-digits eleven times, including his first four contests.
*That had not been done by a Bulldog since Rickey Brown back in 1976-77.
*Hood is the first son of a former Bulldog (Ricky Hood, 1979-80) to play for State since Kermit Davis Jr. followed his father Kermit's lead.
*Hood hasn't shot as well the last three games, 14-of-37. But he's been good at the arc, 6-of-12, in the same stretch.
*Hood is second only to Bost in minutes per-game.
*C Renardo Sidney isn't getting the headlines this year as in the past, and that's mostly a good thing. But the junior has been quietly consistent in the post with double-digit points five of the last six games.
*In this stretch Sidney has shot 33-of-40 from the floor, or 83%.
*Conditioning has been one factor in limiting Sidney to a 21-minute average. Fouls are another as he had five personals in the loss to Baylor, and three against Utah State.
*With Moultrie muscling to the glass, Sidney has gone from 7.6 rebounds last season to 4.8 so far this year.
*G Jalen Steele has hit a threeball in the last eight games.
*But in the last five contests his overall shooting is 10-of-31.
*Since returning from his three-game suspension, G Brian Bryant has been a force on the glass all out of proportion to his 6-3 size. The senior is averaging 5.2 rebounds for the year.
*And Bryant has as many blocks as he does treys, seven of each.
*C Wendell Lewis is feast-or-famine offensively. After scoring 14 points against Northwestern State, he has gone scoreless in 38 total minutes the last two games. Of course he's only taken three shots.