Bulldog Basketball Scouting Report

The Game: Mississippi State (6-7, 1-0 SEC) crosses the conference to face their Bulldog namesakes at Georgia (6-8, 0-1). Tipoff in Stegeman Coliseum is 12:30ct for SEC Network telecast.

*The MSU Bulldogs opened their conference schedule with a two-point home win over South Carolina. It was Mississippi State's first successful SEC debut since 2010.

*The Bulldogs won their league lidlifter despite going 0-of-10 on three-point shooting. That snapped a 262-game streak with at least one made trey. But more notably it was the first State victory without making a longball since the shot was formalized in all college leagues in 1986.

*Georgia has a three-game win streak over State including last March's SEC Tournament victory in New Orleans. That tied the series at 52-52.

*State last won in Athens in 2009 and is 18-27 there.

*G Jalen Steele is the only available Bulldog to have played against Georgia. In three games he has averaged 11.3 points on 48% shooting and made 8-of-17 trey tries.

The Opponent: One season-step forward, one step back…now what for Georgia? Oh, the slide of 2012 was expected of Mark Fox's third season after losing most of the firepower that won 21 games and a '11 NCAA appearance. So last year's 15-17, 5-11 wasn't surprising. The problem this fourth time-around is more top scorers departed again leaving a lot of unprovens about a constantly-changing lineup. No less than ten players have started at least twice, and eleven are getting double-digit minutes. They did have a four-win streak going but bad scheduling luck forced a SEC debut at league-leading Florida and a 33-point setback. It's still early this season but there probably isn't a more important player to his team than big guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He's the only every-game starter and the lone Dog netting over thirty minutes (33.3 to be exact) as the rest of the minutes are well-spread with nobody getting more than 24. Whether by design or frustration, only Fox knows. Talk about do-it-all, KCA does whether it's setting the pace in putting up shots to leading in steals on the other end. His supporting cast is a mixed not to say muddled matter with nobody netting better than eight points-per. Forward Donte' Williams is the surest shooter at 50% even by being selective. Senior Sherrard Brantley's job is pretty obvious, he subs in to shoot longballs and has made 39% of attempts. Note the last two aren't listed as starters this time, and forget it. The projected quintet looks to be an attempt to get more physical with 240-pound post John Florveus and 230-pound forward Nemaja Djurisic (have fun, Bart). In many ways these are mirror-image squads, with the handful of statistical differences offset. Such as, while Georgia has a better assist-turnover rate, State creates more outright steals. They even foul at about the same pace…though this is one area the visiting Dogs don't want to challenge as Georgia has more bodies to work with. A lot more.

Latest Starting Lineups:

GEORGIA: F Nemanja Djurisic, 6-8 SO, 8.2ppg, 4.0rpg; F Brandon Morris, 6-7 FR, 3.9ppg, 2.1rpg; F/C John Florveus, 6-11 SR, 2.8ppg, 3.1rpg; G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6-5 SO, 17.0ppg, 6.9rpg, 30 3ptrs; G Charles Mann, 6-4 FR, 5.4ppg, 2.4apg.

Top Reserves: G Vincent Williams, 6-0 JR, 4.3ppg, 14 3ptrs, 35 asts; F Donte' Williams, 6-9 SO, 5.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 50%fgs.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Rocquez Johnson, 6-7 SO, 12.5ppg, 5.4rpg, 11 blks; C Gavin Ware, 6-9 FR, 8.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 52%fgs, 14 blks; G Craig Sword, 6-3 FR, 9.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 26 stls; G Trivante Bloodman, 6-0 SO, 5.8ppg, 35 asts; G Jalen Steele, 6-3 JR, 9.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 40% 3ptrs

Top Backups: G Fred Thomas, 6-5 FR, 10.2ppg, 20 3ptrs; F Colin Borchert, 6-8 JR, 7.7ppg, 4.8rpg, 17 blks; G Tyson Cunningham, 6-3 JR, 2.5ppg, 3.1rpg.

HOW THEY COMPARE:

Scoring: MSU 62.5, UGA 59.4

Scoring Defense: MSU 62.6, UGA 61.4

FG Shooting: MSU 41.0%, UGA 41.3%

FG Defense: MSU 40.2%, UGA 39.7%

3-Point Shooting: MSU 26.0%, UGA 31.9%

Rebounding: MSU 36.8, UGA 33.9

Rebound Margin: MSU +1.0, UGA +0.6

Free Throw Shooting: MSU 66.6%, UGA 66.9%

Turnovers: MSU +0.1, UGA +2.1

BULLDOG NOTES: *The season-shuffles for injuries and inexperience and all other factors have produced six starting lineups now. The return of G Jalen Steele produced the latest grouping, in only Steele's third start of the season. He missed eight games to injury.

*G Trivante Bloodman is the only Dog to open all 13 games.

*The Bulldogs stand last in SEC shooting today, both overall and three-point, and not surprisingly also last in assists.

*The Bulldogs also come in 14th this week in three-point defense. But they are fourth-best in league steals.

*That's because G Craig Sword and G Fred Thomas are 5th and 7th in steals individually.

*In his first start since the November 13 wrist injury, Steele was 2-of-8 shooting and missed all three treys. Coming off the bench the previous two games he was 6-of-12 at the arc with 26 total points.

*Steele has 105 career treys, and needs 132 to crack the MSU top-ten. But he is already top-ten in percentage for his career.

*Steele has made his last 27 free throws going back to last season and is 8-of-8 this year.

*C Gavin Ware struggled in his first SEC action with two points and four rebounds. The freshman had been on a tear before league play, averaging 13 points on 66% shooting the previous four games.

*Ware ranks 10th in SEC rebounding and has had three double-digit games on the boards.

*After two slower games, F Rocquez Johnson is back on his scoring pace with 14 points in both the last two contests. The sophomore has scored double-digits nine of his 12 games.

*Johnson is finding his way to the foul line consistently and in the last three games is 15-of-19 at the stripe.

*F Colin Borchert had four blocks in his first SEC game, jumping the junior transfer to 7th in SEC swatting. He's blocked seven balls in the last two games and has a six-game swat streak going.

*He's working closer to the goal these days and that has given Borchert 18 rebounds in the last three games.

*Freshman Sword forced a lot of shots early on. Now the rookie is showing more selectivity and is 14-of-26 in the last three games.

*And he's averaged 12.8 points over the last four games.

*Sword has had two or three assists in the last ten games.

*Make or miss, Thomas has the greenest light on this team. He's attempted double-digit shots ten times already as a freshman despite 32% accuracy.

*He is trending a bit more positively the last two games though making 10-of-24. But he's still missing three-fourths of his outside shots.

*Such aggression translates well to defense though. Thomas had five steals against South Carolina to match his freshman season-best. And he's got a knack for blocking three-pointers with eight swats.

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