MSU Goes on the Road to Charlotte

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Playing their third game in five days to open the 2005-06 regular season, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State (2-0) will put their 14-game non-conference road winning streak on the line Wednesday night when they travel to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte 49ers (1-2) of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Tip-off time at Charlotte's Halton Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

State's non-SEC road success began in 2000-01 with a 75-74 victory over the Arizona Wildcats at the McKale Center in the championship game of their Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic. Since then, the Bulldogs have also claimed non-SEC road wins over Pittsburgh (2001 NIT), Louisiana-Lafayette, Richmond, Tulane-twice, South Alabama, UAB, Western Kentucky, Santa Clara, Arkansas-Little Rock, and last season against Birmingham-Southern, New Orleans and Xavier. Overall during the Rick Stansbury era of Mississippi State basketball (since 1998-99), the Bulldogs have compiled an impressive 15-3 composite record on the home floors of non-conference opponents. MSU's last road loss to a non-SEC foe came against California, 83-76 in OT, in an opening-round game of the 2000 TiVo Preseason NIT played in Berkeley, Calif.

Mississippi State enters Wednesday's key matchup against Charlotte sporting a 2-0 mark on the young season after claiming home victories over Chattanooga (64-48) and Arkansas State (68-63) this past Saturday and Monday, respectively. In Monday's contest, senior guard Jamall Edmondson scored 11 of his career-high 15 points in the second half and hit 5-of-6 clutch free throws over the final minute of play to ice MSU's five-point win over the Indians of the Sun Belt Conference. Freshman swingman Jamont Gordon tallied 15 of his season-high 16 points in the opening half of the Arkansas State contest. This past Saturday, Stansbury picked up his 150th career coaching victory, as junior swingman Dietric Slater scored a career-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting in addition to collecting a career-most six rebounds. Edmondson added 13 points against Chattanooga, while sophomore forward Charles Rhodes also registered career highs in both points (12) and rebounds (8).

On the season, the Bulldogs have four players scoring in double figures. Edmondson heads the balanced scoring list at 14.0 points per game, followed by Slater (13.0), Gordon (12.0) and Rhodes (10.5). Rhodes and senior center Wesley Morgan are tops on the club in rebounding at 7.5 and 7.0 boards per game, respectively.

Now affiliated with the Atlantic 10 Conference after a 10-year association with Conference USA, the Charlotte 49ers are 1-2 on the young campaign after their season-opening participation at the Black Coaches Association Invitational played Nov. 13-15 at Laramie, Wyo. Upon opening up tournament play with an 82-65 win over Coppin State, Charlotte then fell to Northwestern (61-47) in the semifinals and also to host Wyoming (87-78) in the consolation game. Guided by eighth-year head coach Bobby Lutz, the 49ers are powered by preseason Wooden Award candidate Curtis Withers, who leads the team in both scoring (18.0 ppg) and rebounding (10.7 rpg). Upon sitting out last season after transferring from Oklahoma, junior guard De'Angelo Alexander is averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest. Both players have been members of USA Basketball's Junior National team. Charlotte posted a 21-8 overall record last season and earned a second straight berth in the NCAA Tournament.

MSU and Charlotte have only met on the hardwood one time previously, with the Bulldogs claiming an 87-68 road triumph over the 49ers during the 1971-72 campaign. This week's trip to Charlotte marks State's second visit to the "Queen City" in eight months, having previously beaten Stanford and fallen to Duke during NCAA Austin Regional play this past March at the Charlotte Coliseum.

Continuing their hectic season-opening pace of playing six games in a dozen days, the Bulldogs will return home to begin a two-week, five-game homestand by first playing host to Southland Conference preseason favorite Northwestern State this Saturday. Tip-off for Saturday's MSU-NSU contest is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.

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