Listed attendence for both Friday sessions were over 23,000 in the Charlotte Coliseum, and to an unofficial observer there appeared to be more Tarheel fans present than Duke boosters. But at the risk of alienating potential help from the powder-blue folk, neither they nor the royal blue Devil folk displayed the sort of neutral-site passion that the Big Blue Nation brings to any venue Kentucky visits.
*Not surprisingly Stanford had a modest contingent making the cross-country trip for their game, though their infamous and entertaining band was present and in full-cry. If this was a tournament of tooting, the Cardinal would roll to the title. Fans from older generations still struggle to call Stanford by their proper nickname; not because it's the color instead of the birds, but because we still remember the Indians name of decades past. And their logo is neither color, bird, nor native, but a tall fir tree…making for a unique mascot of a Christmas tree, decorated only with eyes, grinning mouth, top hat and on the back a death's head insignia. Not everything is politically correct in the state former MSU coach Bob Boyd used to call the "land of fruits and nuts."
*Speaking of coast kids, with about four minutes left, Mississippi State in control and shooting free throws after a timeout, Bulldog guard Winsome Frazier went by the Stanford bench and had some words with a few Cardinal. And the Miami native was not smiling. He did grin when asked later what he had been discussing. "Wasn't much I could say after that!" A response that answered nothing but said everything.
*Yes, Stanford students are among the cream of the country's academic crop. But Cardinal math skills might need some work. With Shane Power shooting free throws after the four-minute media timeout, as soon as the Bulldog guard pumped in the first one four Cardinal took off upcourt…only to be reminded another foul toss remained. Power made that one, too.
There is a great irony in this regional to Power. When he was a senior at Crown Point, Ind., his two top college choices were Stanford and Duke. And he thought after a summer adidas camp in 2000 he had an offer locked up to the west coast school, only to have his camp roommate get the last grant. So Power went to Iowa State for two years before leaving…only to run into the Cyclones in Charlotte, who are playing in the other bracket.
*Senior center Marcus Campbell made a big splash in his first real action since straining a calf muscle the day before the last regular-season game. In 18 minutes—far more than anyone expected he would be able to play—Campbell had eight points, four rebounds, and four blocked shots, the second-best tally of his career. He had seven stuffs in State's regular-season win over Florida.
But Campbell's most remarkable play wasn't a shot, board, or block. It was a pass, specifically a no-look, over-the-shoulder dish to senior forward Ontario Harper in the first half as he cut behind Campbell on the baseline. Campbell admitted it was an instinctive decision to deliver the ball that way. "I don't know, I just saw him go backdoor and tried to get it to him."
Harper, not even a stride apart from the seven-footer, easily grabbed the blind handoff and laid it in at 11:22. Had the impromptu play misfired, though, Campbell likely would not have gotten 18 minutes and played such a large role in the second half as he and Lawrence Roberts shut down Stanford's inside game and forced them to turn to perimeter shooting, with six-straight misses from the arc. Campbell now has 87 career blocked shots, ranking seventh in MSU history and two behind Derrick Zimmerman.
*His six three-point goals against Stanford gives Frazier 158 for his career, ranking sixth on the MSU list and now just three back of Bart Hyche's 161 (1996-99).
*With Friday nights's win, Mississippi State evened the ‘series' with Stanford at a game apiece. In Stansbury's second season as head coach his 1999-2000 team met a Stanford team ranked #1 nationally, in the Pete Newell Challenge. The game was played on the other side of the Bay, in Oakland, but Stanford easily made themselves at home with a 76-56 win.
State now has a 4-8 record against schools in the current Pac-10. This was MSU's first win against that league since beating Arizona in December 1999 in the Fiesta Bowl Classic.
*Beating Stanford gave these Bulldogs their first victory over a ranked team, after six losses to top-25 clubs during the regular season. Florida was not ranked when State won the meeting in Starkville.
*Seniors Winsome Frazier and Marcus Campbell became the first Bulldogs to participate in four NCAA Tournaments. Both got minutes as freshmen at Austin in 2002; again as backups in 2003 at Birmingham; and Frazier started at Orlando last year with Campbell subbing-in. No Bulldog has ever started in more than two NCAA tourney years, and only ten have that many. They are: Erick Dampier, Daryl Wilson (1995, '96), Derrick Zimmerman, Mario Austin, Michal Ignerski (2002, '03), Ontario Harper (2003, '05), Timmy Bowers (2003, '04), and Frazier, Lawrence Roberts, Shane Power (2004, '05).
*Also, Frazier and Campbell extended their school-record for career victories (by their varsity teams) to 93. Dampier and Wilson own the distinction of having the most NCAA victories yet by Bulldogs, with six over two seasons.
*With a 23-point, 14-rebound effort, Roberts recorded his NCAA-leading 57th ‘double-double' of his career. Moreover, the senior scored in double-figures for the 99th time in 117 career games, counting two years at Baylor and two at MSU. For all four years Roberts has 1,925 points and 1,161 rebounds (1,031 and 643 at State). If all his college numbers are counted, Roberts would have just passed Jim Ashmore (1,918, 1954-57) for third in MSU career scoring and now stand second only to Bailey Howell (1,277, 1957-59) in rebounds.
*This was Mississippi State's first appearance in the 17-year-old Charlotte Coliseum, which until three years ago was the homecourt of the Charlotte Hornets. Ironically, the last three Bulldog teams have played in the Hornet's new home, the New Orleans Arena, and posted a 3-0 record in Sugar Bowl Classics.
Another irony: this Coliseum is being demolished after the NBA season ends with the current residents, the Bobcats, moving to a new downtown arena.
*Looking to Sunday's game, Mississippi State has faced Duke before…but not in over six decades. In both 1936-37 and 1937-38, Bulldog teams coached by Frank Carideo beat the Blue Devils in Durham.
*After one full round of play, three of the five SEC teams earning tourney berths this year remain active. State is the lone Western Division member still playing though after both Alabama and LSU went down on the first day. Kentucky and Florida advanced to the second round.
*Mississippi State was scheduled for a 3:50ET press conference Saturday and 4:45 practice at Charlotte Coliseum. The 90-minute workout is closed.