Bulldogs ranked 24th in AP poll

STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the third consecutive season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have claimed a national ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball wire service poll. On the heels of Saturday's 72-50 win over Tulane at the Nokia Sugar Bowl Basketball Classic in New Orleans, MSU made its 2003-04 season debut in Monday's AP poll at No. 24 nationally.

One of only 13 remaining undefeated teams in NCAA Division I men's basketball, the 10-0 Bulldogs will look to match the school's all-time standard for most consecutive wins to open a season this Saturday night on the road when they take on the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock. Tip-off for MSU's regular-season, non-conference finale is set for 7 p.m. at the 18,000-seat Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.

Coach Rick Stansbury's 2001-02 State squad previously matched the 11-0 start first established by coach Babe McCarthy's 1957-58 MSU club en route to setting a new all-time, single-season school record with 27 wins two years ago. That 2001-02 Bulldog team achieved a season-best No. 17 national AP ranking after claiming the school's second SEC Tournament championship.

Last year en route to posting a second straight 20-win season at 21-10, Mississippi State was ranked in the AP Top 25 virtually the entire season, with the exception of the March 10 poll following late-season league road losses to Arkansas and Tennessee. A year ago after knocking off nationally ranked Xavier and Oklahoma in December, the Bulldogs rose to as high as No. 7 nationally in the AP's Jan. 6 poll. That rating marked MSU's highest ranking in The Associated Press wire service poll since McCarthy's 1962-63 State squad finished sixth in the season-ending AP poll and competed in the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament.

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