Coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs are 2-0 on the young season after claiming a 71-62 home victory over South Alabama this past Wednesday following a 90-74 season-opening home triumph over Tennessee-Martin last Saturday. With all five starters scoring in double figures on the year, senior co-captain and preseason all-SEC guard Timmy Bowers leads the way at 19.0 points per game. The reigning SEC All-Tournament Team selection is also averaging a team-high 5.0 assists per outing along with shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Preseason Wooden Award candidate Lawrence Roberts is averaging a double-double (17.5 ppg & 12.0 rpg) thus far, including a 26-point, 15-rebound effort in his official Mississippi State playing debut in the season opener against Tennessee-Martin.
New additions to the State starting lineup this season, juniors Marcus Campbell and Winsome Frazier are averaging 13.0 and 10.5 points per contest, respectively. Senior co-captain Branden Vincent contributes 10.5 points and 8.0 rebounds an outing on the heels of recording his second career double-double with a career-high 15 points and a career best-tying 11 rebounds in Wednesday's nine-point home triumph over South Alabama.
As a team through two games, the Bulldogs are averaging 80.5 points and 46.0 rebounds per contest with scoring and rebounding margins of +12.5 and +16.5, respectively. Thus far on the young season, MSU is shooting 50 percent overall from the field, 30 percent from behind the three-point line and 61 percent from the charity stripe. Defensively, State has collectively held its first two opponents to 39 percent field-goal shooting and limited the opposition to an average of only 29.5 rebounds per game.
Marking Mississippi State's second straight Sun Belt Conference opponent, the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky are winless through two outings, having dropped road decisions to both SEC member Auburn (86-64) and Virginia Commonwealth (72-67) to start the year. Guided by first-year head coach and 1995 Western Kentucky graduate Darrin Horn, the Hilltoppers are currently led in scoring by 6-11, 320-pound senior center Nigel Dixon, a former transfer from Florida State who is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 67 percent from the field, in his first season at WKU. The Sun Belt's reigning Freshman of the Year, sophomore guard Anthony Winchester averages 13.5 points and a team-most 8.5 rebounds per contest. Fifth-year seniors Mike Wells and Todor Pandov are both averaging 10.0 points an outing.
The Bulldogs will next return to the MSU campus to begin a four-game homestand this coming Monday night against McNeese State. Following a Wednesday contest versus Louisiana-Monroe, State will conclude its busy stretch of four games in eight days by playing host to the UAB Blazers next Saturday (Dec. 6) at 1 p.m. in a contest that will be televised by FOX Sports Net South/Sunshine Network. Mississippi State's four-game homestand will come to a close on Saturday, Dec. 13, when the Xavier Musketeers visit Starkville from Cincinnati for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Humphrey Coliseum. The MSU-XU game will be televised by FOX Sports Net Ohio.