Number 2 seed Mississippi State and number 15 seed Monmouth play each other in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Orlando, Florida. The winner plays on Sunday against the the winner of the Xavier vs. Louisville game.
Monmouth University is located in West Long Branch, New Jersey and is a part of the Northeast Conference. It was founded in 1933 as a junior college, then became a four-year college in 1956.
During their last 10 games, they have a 7-3 record. MSU is 8-2 in their last 10 games.
While their home record is a perfect 13-0, they are 4-10 on the road and 4-1 at neutral sites. MSU is 12-0 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites.
They are 0-2 against teams with an RPI ranking of 50 or less. Against teams with an RPI of 150 or less, they are 1-5. MSU is 9-3 against teams with an RPI ranking of 50 or less and 19-3 against teams who are ranked 150 or less in the RPI rankings.
Their leading scorer is 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior forward Blake Hamilton. Blake, whose parents are both Mississippi Valley State University graduates, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi but went to school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is averaging 16.6 points per game while playing 30.4 minutes per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter who shoots 76.5% from the free throw line. He also leads them in rebounds with 6.6 per game. MSU's leading scorer is junior forward Lawrence Roberts, who is averaging 17.0 points per game.
The only other player that is averaging in double figures is 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior guard Dwayne Byfield, who is averaging 12.3 points per game while playing 30.2 minutes per game. MSU has 3 players who average in double figures in points.
Monmouth starts 2 seniors, 2 juniors and 1 sophomore. MSU starts 2 seniors and 3 juniors.
Their starters, in addition to Hamilton and Byfield, are 6-11, 260-pound senior Brian Boxler (7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 17.8 mpg), 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior Jason Krayl (4.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 18.3 mpg) and 6-foot-1, 175-pound sophomore Tyler Azzarelli.
Monmouth has a deep bench, playing 9 players 16 or more minutes per game. One other player plays over 9 minutes per game. Their bench scores 25.3 points per game. MSU has 7 players who average 13.3 minutes or more per game. Their bench is scoring 14.9 points per game.
Of their first 10 players, 4 are seniors, 2 are juniors, 2 are sophomores and 2 are freshmen. Of MSU's first 7 players, 2 are seniors, 4 are juniors and 1 is a freshman.
Monmouth, a decent three-point shooting team (227-648, 35.0%), has four players who are shooting better than 36.0% from the three-point line. Their top three-point shooter is Byfield, who has made 61 of 148 attempts (41.2%). Next best is sophomore Chris Kenny (52-of-138, 37.7%). Chris, while a good three-point shooter, has made just 20 of 58 two-point attempts (34.5%). MSU is shooting 35.4% from the three-point line led by Shane Power who has made 32 of his 70 shots (45.7%). He is followed by Timmy Bowers who is shooting 36.0% (68-189) of his three-pointers.
On the road, Monmouth is shooting 39.8% from the field while shooting 44.4% at home. A model of consistency, they average 55 shots per game on the road and at home. MSU, on the other hand, is shooting 43.8% on the road and 49.6% at home. They average 57 shots per game on the road and 60 at home.
Where Monmouth really stands out is on the free-throw line, making 506 of 678 attempts. They have 5 players who are shooting 75.0% or better from the charity stripe. The leader is Tom Kaplan who has made 57 of 67 attempts. Following him is Hamilton who has made 212 of 277 attempts. Mississippi State is shooting 66.3% from the free-throw line.
Rebounding has been a weakness for Monmouth as evidenced by the fact that their opponents have outrebounded them 36.6 to 33.4 per game. MSU's strength is its rebounding which stands at 40.9 rebounds per game. MSU's opponents are averaging 33.4 rebounds per game. A telling stat is MSU's 413 offensive rebounds to Monmouth's 300.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.