STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With a pair of nationally ranked opponents on tap during this week's crucial two-game homestand, the Mississippi State Bulldogs begin the second half of their SEC slate by playing host to 17th-ranked Georgia Wednesday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the Battle of the Basketball Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum."> STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With a pair of nationally ranked opponents on tap during this week's crucial two-game homestand, the Mississippi State Bulldogs begin the second half of their SEC slate by playing host to 17th-ranked Georgia Wednesday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the Battle of the Basketball Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.">

BULLDOGS HOST NO. 17 GEORGIA TONIGHT

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/basketball/teamshot120-160.jpg" align="left" width="125" height="160"> STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With a pair of nationally ranked opponents on tap during this week's crucial two-game homestand, the Mississippi State Bulldogs begin the second half of their SEC slate by playing host to 17th-ranked Georgia Wednesday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the Battle of the Basketball Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.

Having completed the first half of their conference slate with a break-even 4-4 league mark, which included five road contests, coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs are 17-5 overall on the campaign after dropping a 76-48 road decision at fifth ranked Florida this past Saturday in Gainesville. Undefeated in nine home outings this season, including league home wins over Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU, Mississippi State is looking to reach double figures for home victories for the fourth consecutive season and for the 10th time in the last dozen years. With eight regular-season games remaining, the Bulldogs' next triumph will also match the 18 wins registered by last year's NIT club.

Entering the week ranked 22nd nationally by CollegeRPI.com and rated 27th according to the Sagarin Ratings, MSU continues to lead the Southeastern Conference in field-goal percentage (49.1%) and rebounding margin (+8.2) as a team despite being held to below 40-percent shooting from the field as well as being outrebounded for only the fourth time this season this past weekend.

Individually, sophomore frontliner Mario Austin continues his quest for all star recognition by beginning this week's action ranked among the SEC's Top 10 statistical leaders in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounding (7.5 rpg) and field-goal percentage (57.2%). With 19 double-digit scoring efforts this season, the former SEC Player of the Week tallied a season-high 17 points against Georgia last year in Athens. Senior swingman Marckell Patterson, the team's second-leading scorer (13.3 ppg) and No. 3 rebounder (4.9 rpg) on the year, needs 13 more points to overtake former Bulldog guard Greg Lockhart (1,042 points; 1986-89) and move into 23rd place on the school's all-time scoring chart.

One of the surprise teams in the Southeastern Conference this season, the Georgia Bulldogs, guided by veteran head coach Jim Harrick, enter this week's action also sporting a 17-5 overall record along with owning a 6-3 SEC mark atop the league's Eastern Division standings. Ranked 17th nationally in the current Associated Press media poll and 19th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, the Bulldogs are paced by SEC Newcomer of the Year candidate Jarvis Hayes, who is averaging a team-best 17.7 points per game after transferring from Western Carolina. Junior guard Ezra Williams and sophomore forward Chris Daniels average 17.6 and 13.0 points per contest, respectively.

With Georgia holding a slight 45-44 all-time series lead over MSU through the years, State has claimed all five Starkville meetings with Georgia since the SEC went to divisional play beginning with the 1991-92 basketball campaign.

Winners of their last 14 regular-season home games dating back to last season, the Bulldogs stay home to play host to fifth-ranked and SEC Western Division leader Alabama Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) at Humphrey Coliseum.


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