*The MSU Dogs must approach the first-round date as if playing for their post-season life. Though going into the SEC Tournament the Bulldogs are projected as an at-large NCAA Tournament entry, a loss would leave State vulnerable both to the whims of the selection committee as well as unexpected wins by ‘bubble' type teams elsewhere. Including, perhaps within this league itself as #4 seed Tennessee could steal one of the five slots anticipated to come SEC way.
*The last time Mississippi State needed to win four games for a NCAA bid, they did. In 2009 in Tampa the Bulldogs upset West Division champ LSU and East winner Tennessee on their way to the title. That was State's last NCAA appearance.
*There have been four years a team played all four rounds in winning the tournament: Auburn 1985, Arkansas 2000, Georgia 2008, and Mississippi State 2009.
*In the modern SECT, State teams are 6-14 in Thursday games.
*State is 5-1 in SECT games played in New Orleans.
*The last SEC Tournament hosted by New Orleans was in 2003 in the neighboring Superdome, with State losing in the title game to Kentucky. Playing in the Dome in 1996, under Coach Richard Williams, the Bulldogs won their first-ever league tournament. State has since won two more, in 2002 and 2009.
*State has played in the N.O.A., but not since December 2005 when the Bulldogs defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl Classic. Bulldog teams played in three-straight Classics, beating Oklahoma in 2003 and Tulane in 2004.
*The teams have met 11 times in SEC Tournaments with Georgia leading 8-3.
*Counting the original format used 1933-52, Mississippi State is 27-48 in SEC tourneys. In the current event revived for 1979, the record is 22-29.
*There are two Bulldogs left who played in that 2009 tournament title run, seniors Dee Bost and Taylor Luczak. For that tourney, Bost scored 31 points with 17 assists.
*Some Bulldog SEC Tournament game records: 30 points by Jeff Malone in 1983; 6 three-pointers by Timmy Bowers in 2003; 12 free throws by Daryl Wilson 1994; 15 rebounds by Tyrone Washington 1999; 11 assists by Derrick Zimmerman 2003 and Dee Bost 2011; 8 blocks by Kalpatrick Wells 1983.
*Only once this season has State played games on consecutive days. Or nights, rather. In November the Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M and Arizona in New York City.
The Opponent: Where one Bulldog bunch is playing to secure its NCAA status, the other is playing out the string. Georgia's only post-season hope is in winning this entire tournament, for which there is some recent precedent of course. The 2008 team pulled off the most unlikely SECT run ever, bar none, winning twice in the same day (including an upset of State that evening) and stealing the bid on Sunday. And, as UG Dogs gleefully remember, doing so the last two days on Georgia Tech's court after the equally-memorable tornado damaging the Georgia Dome during State's overtime with Alabama. Enough history, what of this team? All MSU's Dogs need to remember is how Georgia sent them on a five-game skid with the 80-78 overtime win in Humphrey Coliseum back on February 11. So there's no excuse to be unprepared for a rematch which means much more to MSU. Thing is, Georgia was arguably playing its best ball as the schedule ended, with an upset of Florida and win over South Carolina. Of course their road ‘n neutral record is nothing to cheer with the only SEC win away from home was, ummm, well yes. Anyway, the whole-season numbers aren't impressive as no Dog, starter or sub, shoots close to 50% from the floor and only two starters are over 40%. So how do they compete, much less win? Patience, discipline, and grinding a defense down until something comes open. Usually an outside shot, with either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Dustin Ware taking it. This is not a recipe for high scoring and big stats, so one must look down the SEC column to find the key. It's in Georgia's strong rates of both assist/turnover and turnover margin itself where they rank 3rd and 2nd for league-only games. Meaning the controlled approach on one end seems to frustrate opponents into rushing things at the other and giving the Dogs at least some chance of success. The defense is respectable as a result with mid-pack numbers for shooting and three-point coverage, but rebounding is only average. It means Georgia has almost no margin for messup at either end and as the record shows more talented teams generally win in the end. But then, let that M.T.T. get careless or take the game for granted…
Projected Starting Lineups (full season stats):
GEORGIA: F Marcus Thornton, SO 6-7 235, 3.2ppg, 5.1rpg; F Donte' Williams, SO 6-9 220, 7.9ppg, 5.3rpg, 50 blks; G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope FR 6-6 200, 13.6ppg, 5.2rpg, 64 3ptrs, 55 stls; G Dustin Ware, FR 5-11 170, 7.9ppg, 50 3ptrs, 69 asts; G Gerald Robinson, SR 6-1 180, 14.3ppg, 24 3ptrs, 108 asts.
Top Reserves: F Nemanja Djurisic, FR 6-8 230, 6.8ppg, 4.0rpg; G Vincent Williams, JR 6-0 160, 3.1ppg, 13 3ptrs; C/F John Florveus, JR 6-11 230, 1.8ppg, 1.7rpg, 21 blks.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: PF Arnett Moultrie, JR 6-11 249, 16.1ppg, 10.7rpg, 56%fgs; SF Rodney Hood, FR 6-8 204, 10.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 44 3ptrs; C Renardo Sidney, JR 6-10 285, 10.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 51%fgs; G Dee Bost, SR 6-2 175, 15.8ppg, 164 asts, 70 3ptrs; G Brian Bryant, SR 6-3 168, 7.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 56 asts.
Top Backups: G Jalen Steele, SO 6-3 195, 8.1ppg, 61 3ptrs; C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8 253, 3.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 28 blks; G Deville Smith, FR 5-11 165, 4.5ppg, 49 asts.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 71.6ppg, UG 61.3ppg
Scoring Defense: MSU 66.6ppg, UG 63.0
FG Shooting: MSU 45.8%, UG 39.4%
FG Defense: MSU 43.1%, UG 42.0%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 35.8%, UG 31.5%
Rebounding: MSU 36.5rpg, UG 33.3rpg
Rebound Margin: MSU +3.1, UG -1.5rpg
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 70.4%, UG 69.35
Turnovers: MSU -1.0, UG +1.4
BULLDOG NOTES: *All Mississippi State conference wins this season have come in pairs, including the final week of the regular season.
*Rick Stansbury now has 293 career wins, and needs 297 to tie for 7th in SEC history. He is 16-11 in SEC Tournaments with two championships.
*Stansbury is 15-15 in overtime games.
*PF Arnett Moultrie and PG Dee Bost were among the eight players named first-team All-SEC by league coaches this week. *Moultrie received the Bailey Howell Award this week, given to the state's top college player. Bost was among the three finalists for the award as well.
*Moultrie is the only SEC player this season averaging a double-double, and has 18 DDs for this season out of 28 games played.
*Moultrie will be the 11th Bulldog to average double-digit rebounds for a season. His ten predecessors netted ten or more boards per-game for a season 17 times since 1954, first year records are available.
*Moultrie has averaged 20.1 points in SEC wins, 11.1 in losses.
*PG Dee Bost now has 1,610 career points, #7 on the program chart. He needs 1,619 to catch Darryl Wilson for 6th place.
*He is the first Bulldog ever with 600 career assists. Bost has 614 in his 120 games at State.
*Just the fourth Bulldog with 200 career treys, Bost now has made 232. He needs 258 for third place.
*G Brian Bryant scored 24 total point in the five-game losing streak. In the last two wins he had 16 and 15 points, and was 14-of-17 shooting.
*SF Rodney Hood returned from a game-and-a-half injury absence to play 13 and 21 minutes in the last week, with eight points.
*G Jalen Steele has 11 three-point goals in the last five games, and has shot 32% at the arc in this stretch.
*In SEC play, 94 of Steele's 116 shots have been trey-tries.
*C Renardo Sidney runs hot-and-cold lately. After a three-point game against Kentucky he put up 14 and 12 points the next two games; then just five in the season-finale with Arkansas.
*Sidney has two double-doubles this season. One was against Georgia with 10 points and 12 boards.
*C Wendell Lewis is a 63% shooter. But he also has not taken more than three shots in any of the last 11 games and scored just 22 total points.