Busy Bulldogs Host UNO Wednesday Night

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Playing their third game in five days - all against Louisiana-based schools - the Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2) will attempt to get back on the winning track by playing host to the Privateers of the University of New Orleans (1-2) from the Sun Belt Conference Wednesday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off for the seventh MSU-UNO series renewal is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.

Following Saturday's 76-75 overtime home loss to preseason league favorite Northwestern State, in which they squandered a 21-point halftime lead, the short-handed Bulldogs dropped their second straight home decision to a Southland Conference opponent by falling, 57-46, to reigning NCAA Tournament participant Southeastern Louisiana Monday night in Starkville. MSU played Monday's contest against the Lions without five eligible players, including two starters, who were not dressed out for the game due to injury or illness (Dietric Slater-ankle; Piotr Stelmach-ankle; Charles Rhodes-sick; Richard Delk-foot; and Billy Begley-elbow).

The recent consecutive setbacks mark the first time in 20 years (1985-86) that a Mississippi State team has dropped back-to-back home decisions to non-conference opponents. In addition to standing as MSU's lowest scoring output since dropping a 47-46 first-round decision to Butler during the 2003 NCAA East Regional played in Birmingham, Ala., State's 25.5 percent shooting effort from the field against Southeastern earlier in the week marked the team's lowest field-goal percentage in a game since hitting only 24.2 percent from the field in a 72-71 overtime loss to Old Dominion during the 1996 Puerto Rico Holiday Classic played in San Juan. In last Saturday's narrow loss to Northwestern State, MSU had its 18-game home winning streak versus non-conference opposition snapped.

Prior to the club's recent home losses, coach Rick Stansbury's new-look State squad got out of the gates with a quick 3-0 start by recording home victories over Chattanooga (64-48) and Arkansas State (68-63) before extending the team's non-conference road winning streak to 15 consecutive games with last Wednesday's 53-38 win at Charlotte. In the Charlotte contest, MSU held the 49ers to their lowest single-game scoring total and worst shooting effort from the field (21.7%) in the school's history.

As a team defensively, the Bulldogs presently lead the SEC in field-goal percentage defense (33.8%) and three-point field goal percentage defense (23.7%) along with ranking second behind Vanderbilt in scoring defense (56.4 ppg). In contrast, State has struggled early on this season with offensive inconsistency and currently rates last in the league in seven statistical categories, including scoring offense (61.2 ppg), field-goal percentage (38.2%), three-point field goal percentage (21.7%), assists (8.00 apg), and assist/turnover ratio (0.42:1).

The Privateers of the University of New Orleans are 1-2 on the young season after falling to Louisiana Tech, 76-64, this past Saturday at their temporary home facility (Herrington Patriot Center) located in Tyler, Texas. Presently displaced by Hurricane Katrina, UNO has also knocked off Belhaven (103-69) in its season opener played in Tyler as well as having dropped a 77-66 decision to rival Tulane in a designated road game contested at Reed Arena located on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. Guided by fifth-year head coach and former North Carolina State standout guard Monte Towe, the Privateers are sparked again by high-scoring junior guard Bo McCalebb, who is averaging 21.7 points per game this season after finishing the 2004-05 campaign ranked fifth nationally in scoring at 22.6 points per contest. Sophomore swingman James Parlow and junior guard Jamie McNeilly are also averaging in double figures at 13.7 and 12.7 points an outing, respectively.

Winding down a hectic season-opening slate of playing their first six games over a 12-day period (Nov. 19-30), the Bulldogs stay at home to welcome the Santa Clara Broncos this Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) in a contest slated to be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South/Sunshine Network. MSU then closes out its five-game homestand the following Saturday (Dec. 10) against Sun Belt Conference newcomer Troy University.


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