*A pair of SEC home wins improved the Bulldogs two spots in the latest writers rankings. Mississippi State has been in the polls for seven-straight weeks now with a highest ranking—so far--of #15.
*State is 11-2 playing with a ranking this season.
*Mississippi State owns a 138-105 lead in its most-played (not oldest, that is LSU) series. Bulldog teams have won the last five meetings, including three-straight in Oxford. No current State player has lost at Tad Smith.
*Rick Stansbury is 20-7 against Ole Miss, his most victories of any opponent. He has 287 career wins and ranks 9th on the SEC list needing 297 to tie for 7th place.
The Opponent: Give Andy Kennedy credit for consistency. His five Rebel teams have won 7-to-9 league games each year, no less and no more. That's been good enough for four 20-win seasons and NIT berths…again, no less and no more. But continuing the latter two items might be a challenge given how year-six has developed. Offense was the serious question for this club even before Kennedy had to jettison his top scorer, sophomore guard Dundrecous Nelson. Now points become all the more precious until more members of a recruiting class that outnumbers veterans maximize their now-larger opportunities. Well, one of the ‘recruits' isn't exactly new; junior forward Murphy Holloway spent two seasons playing in Oxford before a move to South Carolina…and an abrupt return for this season. He's very welcome back in the fold with his double-double production, efficient shooting, and interestingly for someone his size a team-best 22 steals. Besides, Holloway is one of the two Rebels with a win over State on their record. The other starts alongside him in the frontcourt. Talk about consistency, Terrance Henry is the same player today as when he broke into the lineup as a 2009 freshman: a smart defender and opportunistic scorer with an average one point better today than last season. He can even throw in the odd three at unexpected times. Reginald Bucker won't, and in fact his scoring is down for the senior season despite 55% accuracy when he does find the opening. But he'll hit the boards hard and with Henry make for a scrappy front line. 280-pound Demarco Cox is the bigger body in this rotation, useful for minutes and rebounds. Losing Nelson took the primary perimeter scoring threat, a task freshman Jarvis Summers assumes. He's hit almost 39% of long tries and will throw up ever-more with junior Nick Williams balancing the backcourt attack. Or so UM hopes as through three SEC games they are 21% at the arc and didn't make a single trey in one game. Of course, they won that one, too, reminding how a team that can defend and rebound—check the impressive size of those rookie guards--is always ready to play. And if the shots start falling, who knows? Another 20-win NIT season could be in reach. But…probably no more.
Projected Starting Lineups:
OLE MISS: F Murphy Holloway, JR 6-7 240, 10.6ppg, 10.0rpg, 56%fgs; F Terrance Henry, SR 6-9 210, 10.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 16 blks; F Reginald Buckner, JR 6-9 225, 5.9ppg, 8.3rpg, 40 blks; G Jarvis Summers, Fr 6-4 182, 10.8ppg, 17 3ptrs, 52 asts; G Jelan Kendrick, FR 6-7 210, 4.3ppg, 1.3rpg.
Top Reserves: G Nick Williams, JR 6-4 210, 9.1ppg, 3.8rpg, 13 3ptrs; C Demarco Cox, SO 6-8 280, 3.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 52%fgs; G Ladarius White, FR 6-6 208, 4.4ppg, 6 3ptrs; G Maurice Aniefiok, FR 6-5 205, 2.3ppg, 6 3ptrs
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Rodney Hood, FR 6-8 200, 12.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 33.8mins; F Arnett Moultrie, JR 6-11 249, 15.9ppg, 10.8rpg, 57%fgs; C Renardo Sidney, JR 6-10 285, 10.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 58%fgs; G Dee Bost, SR 6-2 175, 16.0ppg, 74 asts, 34 3ptrs; G Jalen Steele, SO 6-3 195, 7.3ppg, 27 3ptrs.
Top Backups: C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8 253, 5.3ppg, 4.5rpg, 22 blks; G Brian Bryant, SR 6-3 168, 7.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 25 asts; G Deville Smith, FR 5-11 165, 6.1ppg, 43 asts.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 73.8, OM 66.0
Scoring Defense: MSU 64.1, OM 63.9
FG Shooting: MSU 46.8%, OM 41.9%
FG Defense: MSU 41.9%, OM 39.4%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 34.5%, OM 27.0%
3-point Attempts PG: MSU 341, OM 281
Rebounding: MSU 37.1, OM 39.8
Rebound Margin: MSU +3.4, OM +4.1
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 70.7, OM 60.6%
Turnovers: MSU +0.6, OM -1.5
BULLDOG NOTES: After an sharp aberration at Arkansas with 98 points allowed, the Bulldog defense cracked down on the home court with just 110 combined points in two league wins.
*In three SEC games the Bulldogs have the league's best free throw shooting, 78.3%. For the whole season State is third at 70.7%
*This State squad is not relying nearly so much on outside shooting as their predecessors. They only needed to make eight total treys to beat Tennessee and Alabama, and are averaging just 6.5 per game for the season. That's down from 7.9 last season.
*At the same time, State is holding all foes to 31% at the arc.
*Mississippi State leads the NCAA in fewest fouls per-game, at just 13.0. Only once in the last twelve games has State been charged with more fouls than the opponent, at Baylor.
*State has been out-rebounded only three times this season, and just once was it a loss (also at Baylor).
*PF Arnett Moultrie has averaged a double-double since opening day but it took nine weeks for him to be named SEC Player of the Week. He averaged 19 points and shot 73% in State's two home wins.
*That included his best Bulldog day to date, as he scored 25 points with 13 boards in beating Alabama. It was Moultrie's tenth double-double of the season.
*Moultrie has grabbed ten or more rebounds in 11 of his 15 games. He leads the SEC in board-work and is #9 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.
*Moultrie took just 14 shots in his first two SEC games; against Alabama he took that many and made ten. He is shooting 20-of-28 in league play.
*But after shooting nearly 90% on free throws, he has cooled a bit lately and is 6-of-10 the last two games.
*How odd was Moultrie fouling out at Arkansas? In the four preceding games, and two more since, he has just seven total personals.
*He might not be shooting as consistently as wished, but PG Dee Bost has excellent timing on his makes. In both of last week's wins the senior came through with clutch three-pointers that put his team in charge.
*The three made-treys against Alabama were as many as Bost had hit in the previous five games. And in that preceding stretch he was 3-of-19 at the arc; he was 3-of-7 against the Tide.
*Bost just became only the fourth Bulldog to score 200 career three-pointers.
*His 17 Saturday points give Bost 1,409 career markers, 14th-most in MSU history.
*And he is all alone atop the assists column with 528 in 107 career games.
*Bost is third in MSU career steals with 169.
*Bost has started every game played in his four State seasons.
*C Renardo Sidney has been consistent with his shooting in SEC action, exactly 50%. For his last nine games the junior is 43-of-60 from the field.
*And he has 23 rebounds in the last four games.
*Sidney played a season-high 28 minutes in the win over Alabama.
*SEC season has been a whole different game for freshman SF Rodney Hood, as in three games he has shot 8-of-23 overall and 3-of-11 at the arc.
*He had a ten-game streak of making at least one trey snapped Saturday by Alabama.
*G Jalen Steele also had hit a three in ten-straight games, then missed all five attempts Saturday. He had hit two treys in each of the previous four games.
*But Steele already has as many threefers, 27, this season as all of his freshman season.
*He hasn't taken a free throw for five games now.
*C Wendell Lewis hasn't been much for offense since a 14-point night against Northwestern State. He's scored four points in the last five games.
*But the backup center has blocked a shot in six-straight games, eleven total, for a team-leading 23 swats.
*After going-off for 25 points in the Arkansas game, G DeVille Smith has one bucket on eight shots in the last two contests.
*C Roquez Johnson has not played since the Baylor game.