Averaging nearly 82 points per game on the year to rank fourth among the SEC's team statistical leaders, Mississippi State also currently stands second in both scoring margin (+19.9) and field-goal percentage (.526). The Bulldogs have shot 54 percent or better from the field as a team in five of their seven outings on the season. Defensively, they are rated third in the league in field-goal percentage defense (.369) and fourth in scoring defense (62.0 ppg).
Individually, MSU continues to be paced by the talented duo of senior Marckell Patterson and sophomore Mario Austin, who both rank among the SEC's top-10 scoring leaders at 18.6 and 15.7 points per game, respectively. Austin leads the league in field-goal percentage (.587), slightly ahead of Patterson (.581), in addition to ranking fifth in rebounding average (8.0 rpg). Junior Derrick Zimmerman runs State's potent offensive attack, leading the SEC in assists (7.6 apg) and ranking second in steals (2.4 spg).
Hailing as MSU's fourth Sun Belt Conference opponent of the young season, the Indians of Arkansas State come to Starkville sporting a 6-2 record after dropping a 67-63 road decision to Air Force this past Wednesday in Colorado. ASU's other setback on the year was a narrow 79-77 loss at Mississippi Valley State. Guided by seventh-year head coach Dickey Nutt, Arkansas State is led in scoring by a trio of seniors. Guard Nick Rivers leads the way at 20.6 points per game, while 7-foot center Jason Jennings, a former Arkansas Razorback, averages 15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest. Veteran forward Kolin Weaver adds 10.4 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds an outing.
Mississippi State owns a 7-2 all-time series lead over Arkansas State through the years, though the two teams have not faced each other on the hardwood since MSU swept a pair of contests from the Indians during the 1958-59 campaign. All nine previous MSU-ASU encounters took place during the 1950s.
Following a week break from competition due to final exams, the Bulldogs return to action next Saturday (Dec. 15) against Louisiana-Monroe in Southaven, Miss. With the game time set for 2 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center, the MSU ULM contest will tip off tournament action of the inaugural Las Vegas Classic.