Bulldogs to face tough Arkansas team

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The sixth-ranked Bulldogs of Mississippi State (20-1, 9-1) will attempt to stay undefeated on the road by taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-10, 3-7) this Saturday in search of their first-ever victory at Bud Walton Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by Fox Sports Net South/Sunshine Network with Preston Scott calling the play-by-play action and former Vanderbilt standout Barry Booker providing the color commentary.

Ranked sixth nationally in both Top 25 polls for their highest Associated Press ranking in 41 years, coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs are 20-1 overall and a league-leading 9-1 in SEC play after claiming a come-from-behind 79-75 overtime road win over the South Carolina Gamecocks this past Wednesday in Columbia. With overall records of 21-10 and 27-8 the past two seasons under Stansbury's guidance, MSU has now registered three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in the school's 92-year basketball history. Now with 68 total victories over the past three seasons, Mississippi State ranks as the 10th-winningest NCAA Division I men's basketball program over that span, according to information provided by STATS, Inc. Syracuse and Kent State have also recorded a total of 68 victories since the 2001-02 campaign.

MSU's self-proclaimed "road warriors" are now undefeated in nine true road contests on the season to rate tied for third nationally among the winningest road teams in NCAA Division I play. Third-ranked and undefeated Saint Joseph's is 12-0 on the road, while East Tennessee State currently ranks second nationally with 10 road wins (in 13 road decisions). With five SEC wins away from home and four non-conference road triumphs on the year, MSU's nine true road wins this season mark the most by a State squad since going 9-1 on the road in 1961-62, when coach Babe McCarthy's team finished the year 24-1 overall and 13-1 in SEC play.

During their current seven-game SEC winning streak - their longest such string in regular-season play since 1962-63 - the Bulldogs have risen to the top or near the top in several team statistical categories. For all games, Mississippi State enters the weekend ranked second in scoring offense (76.0 ppg), scoring margin (+12.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage (47.0%). Defensively, MSU leads the league for all games in rebounding offense (40.2 rpg), rebounding margin (+6.7 rpg) and steals (10.2 spg). State also ranks first or second in all six of the aforementioned categories for conference games only as well.

Individually, the Bulldogs continue to get well-balanced scoring throughout their starting lineup, as all five starters average between 7.1 and 17.1 points per game on the season. MSU has had at least four double-digit scorers in all seven contests during the team's current seven-game SEC win string, including all five starters finishing in double figures earlier in the week at South Carolina. Leading the way at 17.1 points per outing to rank sixth in the SEC, all-America candidate Lawrence Roberts is coming off back-to-back, 20-point efforts (20 at USC & 24 vs. Ole Miss last Saturday) for the first time this season. Also ranked second in the league in rebounding (9.9 rpg), the SEC Player of the Year candidate is bidding to become the first State player since Rickey Brown (1979-80) to average a double-double an entire season.

Also contending for All-Star accolades as a senior co-captain, guard Timmy Bowers rates as the conference's No. 10 scorer (15.6 ppg) and third-best playmaker (4.3 apg). Ranking fourth in the SEC in made 3-pointers per game (2.4 treys/gm), Bowers hit a clutch, game-tying triple to send Wednesday's contest at South Carolina into overtime. His backcourt mate, junior Winsome Frazier, who also came up big with nine key points during MSU's momentum-swinging 14-2 second-half spurt earlier in the week at USC, averages 12.4 points per game and leads the SEC in steals (2.9 spg).

In his second season at the Arkansas helm, coach Stan Heath's youthful Razorback contingent is 11-10 overall and 3-7 in SEC play after dropping a pair of road decisions (69-65 at Tennessee and 65-52 at LSU) within the past week. Having won three straight SEC home games (Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Auburn), Arkansas is led in scoring by sophomore forward Jonathon Modica at 16.2 points per contest. Freshman guard Ronnie Brewer follows at 12.6 points an outing and adds team highs of 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game.


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