MSU Basketball Scouting Report-Feb 10, 2012

The Game: #20-ranked Mississippi State (19-5, 6-3 SEC) completes the longest league homestand of the schedule by hosting Georgia (11-12, 2-7 SEC). Tipoff is 12:30 for SEC Network telecast.

*Mississippi State is two-for-two in the current home-game stretch, which has improved their home court scoresheet to 14-1 with a 13-game win streak. And, 5-0 in league play.

*The Bulldogs have been ranked now for 12-straight weeks, and just moved back into the A.P. top-twenty after slipping to #22 last week. Their highest A.P. ranking so far is #15.

*After five league victories by five or fewer points, the Bulldogs scored their first double-digit margin of SEC victory by beating Ole Miss 70-60 Thursday evening.

*The MSU coach has 291 career wins and ranks 9th on the SEC list needing 297 to tie for 7th place.

*State had a chance last year to balance the all-time series with Georgia, only to lose in Athens. So UG's Dogs bring a 52-50 lead to Starkville. But State has won 8 of the last 11 meetings.

*Stansbury is 9-7 against Georgia, and has not lost a home game in the series since 2002.

*Thursday's crowd of 10,364 was the 12th-largest ever at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Opponent: The Scouting Report staff seeks to explain each foe's strong points and weak links without commentary. Unfortunately in the case of Georgia, such rundowns are going to read like running the Dogs down. This is just not a good basketball team as confirmed by record and the second-lowest attendance (topping only Ole Miss) in the league. Among other glaring statistics: no one on this roster, starter nor backup, is shooting 45%. Only five regulars are over 40% in fact, and this includes non-conference games. So…what happened Wednesday? The shots fell, that's what, and setting aside Arkansas' well-known road woes the 53% accuracy that night put everyone—especially State—on alert. Coach Mark Fox rolls the dice with lots of outside shooting and Georgia is averaging over seven treys-per in the last five games, even making 16-of-35 the last two times out with a three-guard lineup firing at will. Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson had 88 treys between them last season, and while Ware is still throwing them in regularly freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has taken over the team lead in this category. Bombing away from the backcourt does seem the best approach because the frontcourt is sadly in-offensive no matter who Fox puts on the floor. For that matter the Bulldogs lack muscle all over the court which shows up most in unreliable rebounding. And given how many shots are missed that's a serious sore point because Georgia does play pretty sound defense on the whole without relying on blocked shots (they're tied for SEC-last with State there). Those outside shooters take fair care of the ball as well and force a few turnovers too. But until the post play picks up these Dogs are going to lag behind the SEC pack and finish under .500 after an entertaining 21-win NCAA season last winter. At least Georgia oughtn't come in last because two dates remain with South Carolina…another squad the Scouting Report will struggle for positivity.

Projected Starting Lineups:

GEORGIA: F Donte Williams, SO 6-9 220, 7.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 30 blks; F Marcus Thornton, SO 6-7 235, 2.7ppg, 4.7rpg; G Dustin Ware, SR 5-11 172, 8.0ppg, 41 3ptrs, 49 asts; G Gerald Robinson, SR 6-1 180, 14.1ppg, 87 asts; G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope FR 6-5 200, 14.2ppg, 5.2rpg, 51 3ptrs.

Top Reserves: G Vincent Williams, JR 6-0 160, 3.7ppg, 12 3ptrs, 34% 3ptrs; F/C John Florveus, JR 6-11 230, 1.8ppg, 1.9rpg; F Nemanja Djurisic, FR 6-8 230, 6.9ppg, 3.8rpg.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Rodney Hood, FR 6-8 200, 11.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 37 3ptrs; F Arnett Moultrie, JR 6-11 249, 17.0ppg, 11.0rpg, 56%fgs; C Renardo Sidney, JR 6-10 285, 10.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 54%fgs; G Dee Bost, SR 6-2 175, 15.8ppg, 122 asts, 53 3ptrs; G Brian Bryant, SR 6-3 168, 6.9ppg, 4.7rpg, 45 asts.

Top Backups: G Jalen Steele, SO 6-3 195, 8.0ppg, 46 3ptrs; C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8 253, 4.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 24 blks.

HOW THEY COMPARE (all season statistics):

Scoring: MSU 73.7 ppg, GA 61.5 ppg

Scoring Defense: MSU 66.4 ppg, GA 63.0 ppg

FG Shooting: MSU 46.5%, GA 39.4%

FG Defense: MSU 43.0%, GA 42.0%

3-Point Shooting: MSU 36.8%, GA 32.4%

3-point Attempts PG: MSU 19.3, GA 20.5%

Rebounding: MSU 37.1, GA 33.3

Rebound Margin: MSU +3.9, GA +1.8

Free Throw Shooting: MSU 69.7%, GA 69.8%

Turnovers: MSU -0.6, GA +1.0

BULLDOG NOTES: *Three Bulldogs still pace the SEC in average minutes, it's just their order that shuffles for this weekend. Freshman SF Rodney Hood now leads the league at 35.4 minutes (SEC games only) ahead of PF Arnett Moultrie (35.3) and PG Dee Bost (35.2).

*State has been able to steal a few more minutes lately from those and other regulars. Against Auburn and Ole Miss, reserves Shaun Smith and C Roquez Johnson have 13 combined minutes. Not much, but better than their three total minutes in the previous three-game stretch where seven players accounted for everything else.

*State is now #2 in SEC-game scoring average at 71.8 points-per, trailing only Kentucky at 73.9. But the Wildcats are first in scoring defense where MSU checks in at 11th for now.

*Where the Bulldogs have heated-up is, you guessed it, at the arc. In their last three games they have hit 28-of-60 there, pushing MSU up to third in SEC outside makes-per-game. Oddly, State had been hitting just 28% on the home court in the first three league games.

*Of course the Dogs are last in defending the arc, too. But the next three opponents rank 9, 10, and 11 in league outside shooting.

*PF Arnett Moultrie is one of two league players averaging a double-double along with Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis. Moultrie has 13 D-Ds out of his 21 games played.

*This is just the second time Moultrie has gone consecutive games without a double-double.

*Moultrie ranks 4th in overall SEC scoring going into the weekend and second in shooting. But he's a clear league leader in rebounding at 11.1 boards. And he has the second-most offensive rebounds of anyone.

*Moultrie has scored 358 points so far at State, giving him 1,008 career markers. And Moultrie has 753 career rebounds including those two seasons at UTEP.

*Moultrie has averaged 21.0 points in State's SEC wins; 10.3 in losses. And while in wins he's shot 59.0%, in losses it is 35.3%.

*There was a point Moultrie was hitting just under 90% of his free throws. He's dropped off that pace at 11-of-21 the last three games.

*Bost has found his offensive groove again, hitting four field goals in all the last three games. But nine of them were treys, and in this stretch he is 9-of-16 at the arc.

*Where the senior is on a real tear is assists. He set a personal-best Thursday with 13 scoring passes, the most of any SEC player so far this season. In the last four games Bost has 34 assists, giving him 572 for the career.

*He now leads Florida's Erving Walker for first in SEC assists average.

*Though, in the same stretch he has 14 turnovers, the price of aggressive passing.

*When Bost fouled-out against Auburn, it was his first time to draw five personals since the 2009-10 opener against Rider; a 68-game stretch.

*Just the fourth Bulldog with 200 career treys, Bost now has made 215. He needs 258 for third place.

*Bost just moved into MSU's career top-ten scorers. He now has 1,499 points in 113 games.

*Bost has started every game played in his four State seasons.

*After a three-game stretch making 7-of-25 shots, C Renardo Sidney is back on track. He's 11-of-14 the last two games for 31 points.

*Sidney hasn't gotten over three fouls for the last four games now, and has not fouled-out all SEC season.

*Of course this cautious approach has limited his blocked shot chances, with just two swats since New Years Day. And his rebounding average has taken a hit as well, a tradeoff State will accept to have him available.

*G Jalen Steele has been on a three-point tear the last six games, making 19 of 37 tries from the arc.

*In SEC play, Steele has taken 50 trey-tries out of his 63 total shots.

*Steele's job as a set-shooter is pretty basic, and he has just one assist in the last nine games.

*This does keep him from drawing many fouls though, and State wants Steele at the foul line because he is 6-of-6 there in SEC season.

*SF Rodney Hood has found his offensive niche in SEC play. Over half his shots in league games are at the arc, and he has made at least one trey in the last six contests while making 10-of-29.

*What Hood has really picked up for the thin backcourt is some of the assists load, with 14 scoring passes the last five games.

*G Bryan Bryant was struggling with 6-of-22 shooting in a four-game stretch. But the last four times out he is 10-of-16.

*C Wendell Lewis continues to put in big minutes with small points off the bench. He has 15 points for SEC season. Of course the junior has taken just 16 shots in these nine games.

*Lewis has a team-best 24 blocks as the backup postman, tying him for 15th in the SEC this week.

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