*This is the seventh ‘home' game for State during the Stansbury era that has been played off-campus, with at least one trip every season but 1999-2000, and so far such moves have worked out quite nicely. Bulldog teams are a perfect 6-0 in such games, including a victory over New Orleans in Tupelo last season.
*The Coliseum opened in 1962-63, and Bulldogs teams have played there 13 times…most recently in December 2002 when State beat Georgia State. MSU teams are 8-5 in the facility and have not lost there since Jim Hatfield's last club was beaten by Southern Mississippi in December 1980.
About the Gamecocks
Most SEC fans are doing well just to know that Jacksonville State is not Jacksonville, and that the Gamecocks hail from Alabama, not Florida. JSU is a D-I basketball program, however, and a member of the Ohio Valley Conference that for decades has brought grief to unwary clubs in ‘big' leagues. But these Gamecocks are not likely to pose quite as much of an upset threat to State. Coach Mike LaPlante's team is coming off a 14-14 season where JSU finished under .500 in the OVC at 7-9, and only one starter and three other lettermen are back. LaPlante (60-65 in his fifth year) has brought in host of jucos to try to rebuild quickly, and the Gamecocks have been competitive on the home court so far with wins over Mississippi Valley, Berry College, and Shorter College. But they struggle badly on the road with four-straight away losses, including a 13-point setback at Jackson State. In this stretch they have also fallen at Wofford, Coastal Carolina, and 66-64 on a rebound-putback at Delaware State. The struggles have come in spite of a strong showing by forward Dorien Brown, who was still named OVC Freshman of the Week. JSU is led by lone veteran Walker Russell, a preseason all-conference pick averaging over 16 points. LaPlante has shuffled his lineup often already with nine players drawing a start. Russell is the only Gamecock to open every game. If JSU has a strong point it's outside shooting balance; four ‘Cocks have ten or more treys and respectable accuracy. But they lack a strong post presence, and turnovers are a problem.
Probable Starting Lineups
JSU: F Dorien Brown, 6-8 F, 8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg; F/C Carlos Lumpkin, 6-6 JR, 4.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg; G Anthony Wilson, 6-3 JR, 8.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg; G Walker Russell, 6-0 JR, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 apg; G B.J. Spencer, 6-4 JR, 12.7 ppg, 18 3pts
JSU Alternates: G Tim Lewis, 6-3 FR, 5.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg; F Abou Diame, 6-9 SR, 6.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg; G Jeremy Law, 6-5 JR, 7.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg.
Mississippi State: G Gary Ervin, 5-11 SO, 7.7 ppg, 5.6 apg; G Winsome Frazier, 6-4 SR, 14.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 31 3pts; C Marcus Campbell, 7-0 SR, 5.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg; F Lawrence Roberts, 6-9 SR, 17.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg; F Shane Power, 6-5 SR, 10.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 22 3pts.
Scoring: MSU 73.7, JSU 75.3
Scoring Defense: MSU 61.8, JSU 75.5
Rebounding: MSU 42.2, JSU34.2
Shooting: MSU 44.3%, JSU 47.1%
Defense: MSU 37.9%, JSU 46.2%
Three-Point Shooting: MSU 35.0% (82/234), JSU 33.9%
It's not much of one, with only two meetings. Both were Bulldog wins, in 1999 by a 73-54 score and in 2000 at Jacksonville 73-61. That latter meeting was a rare spring semester non-conference game for State.
Did You Know?
*Rick Stansbury's debut as MSU head coach was in the Mississippi Coliseum on November 17, 1998. The Bulldogs whipped Arkansas-Pine Bluff 105-53 that night.
*JSU guard B.J. Spencer is a Starkville native and played for former Bulldog Greg Carter at Starkville High School. He attended Beville State CC in Alabama before signing with JSU.
*Senior Winsome Frazier now ranks eighth in MSU career steals with 131, needing eight thefts to catch Terry Lewis (1980-83) in seventh. Frazier just caught Tang Hamilton (1998-01) for sixth in career treys, with 132.
*Senior Lawrence Roberts leads active NCAA players in career double-doubles with 42, 20 of them at State. Counting his two seasons at Baylor, Roberts now has 1,574 points and 921 rebounds. That latter figure ranks first for current NCAA players.
*Senior Marcus Campbell had two blocked shots against Florida A&M, giving him 66 career swats to rank eighth in MSU annals.
The Bulldogs take their Christmas break before returning to action, again on a neutral court, when they play Virginia Tech on December 30 in the first game of the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. Jacksonville State takes on another SEC West club with a December 29 visit to Arkansas.