ABOUT THE PRIVATEERS
As with most athletic programs in the New Orleans area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Privateers are relieved just to be able to play the season even if at a temporary home-away-from-home in Tyler, Texas. It's a shame because after suffering his first losing season (13-17) in five years with UNO, Coach Monte Towe (62-62) was looking to come back strong in 2005-06. His team still might even under the circumstances with a more experienced roster and a shooting star anyone could covet. With veterans back who count 91 starts among them, the Privateers just need some improved production in the post to do better than their projected third-place finish in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference. The Bulldogs have seen Bo McCalebb twice before, scoring six points off the bench two years ago and 16 points as a soph starter last December. McCalebb got a whole lot better in the 2005 portion of the schedule and finished as the nation's #5 scorer at 22.6 points. Now a Naismith Award nominee, he's notching 21.7 points through three games on 43% shooting, likely due to playing in a lot of strange gyms these strange days. But UNO has other gunners to guard, with soph James Parlow scoring nearly 14 points and hitting 11 treys in three games (McCalebb has only tried nine so far). Add in 13-point scorer and assists leader Jamie McNeilly and it makes for a potent backcourt on the offensive end. They're not bad on the other side of the stripe either as the team's steals average is up from last year. Where the Privateers were vulnerable last season was closer to the goal. There are still issues here, and junior center Ben Elias was lost before the season to knee injury. Senior Nathaniel Parker, who did not play against State last year, is now in the pivot. He gets help from 6-10 forward and fellow senior Shawn Malloy. The rebounding stats do tilt very much against UNO, and while shot-blocking looks a bit better it's still not great. Yet with a backcourt that can go off at any point, against anybody, teams from bigger leagues do well to fear a visit from the Privateers…especially a State team with limited bodies to run with this lineup. And one bit of good news for UNO—they get to play on their own campus for the first time this season on New Year's Eve when they host Tulane.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
NEW ORLEANS: G Bo McCalebb, JR, 6-0 180, 21.7ppg, 2.0rpg; G Jamie McNeilly, JR, 6-3 175, 12.7ppg, 1.3rpg; C Nathaniel Parker, SR, 6-8 230, 8.0ppg, 6.3rpg; F James Parlow, SO, 6-3 170, 13.7ppg, 4.0rpg; F Shawn Malloy, SR, 6-10 240, 8.0ppg, 4.7rpg.
Top Reserves: G Wayne Williams, JR, 6-4, 205, 6.3ppg, 2.3rpg; F Earnest Daney, JR, 6-3 195, 3.0ppg, 3.7rpg; F Jacob Manning, JR, 6-7 205, 2.7ppg, 2.7rpg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: G Jamall Edmondson, SR 5-9 190, 11.8ppg, 2.4apg; G Reggie Delk, FR, 6-4 170, 5.2ppg, 2.0rpg; C Wesley Morgan, SR, 7-2 240, 7.0ppg, 10.4rpg; F Jerrell Houston, rFR, 6-8 210, 2.4ppg, 2.6rpg; F Jamont Gordon, FR, 6-4 225, 12.4ppg, 5.4rpg.
Top Reserves: F Charles Rhodes, SO 6-8 240, 8.0ppg, 4.8rpg; G/F Michael Boler SR 6-5 190, 0.6ppg, 0.6rpg; F Bernard Rimmer FR, 6-8 195, 0.5ppg, 2.0rpg; C Vernon Goodridge FR 6-9 220 0.8ppg, 1.3rpg.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Average Points: MSU 61.2ppg, UNO 77.7ppg
Points Allowed: MSU 56.4ppg, UNO 74.0ppg
Field Goal %: MSU 38.2%, UNO 43.3%
Field Goal Defense: MSU 33.8%, UNO 50.6%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 21.7% (18-83), UNO 36.4% (20-55)
Rebounding Average: MSU 41.2rpg, UNO 31.0rpg
Rebounds Allowed: MSU 39.8rpg, UNO 37.3rpg
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 66.7%, UNO 62.2% Average Turnovers: MSU 19.0, UNO 14.3
THE SERIES: It's been a short series between the teams from neighboring states, which only began in 1977 when the Bulldogs took a 86-83 victory in Starkville. Since then State has built a 5-1 lead, the lone loss coming in the 1990 NIT at Lakefront Arena. MSU has won the last two meetings, 77-59 in Tupelo in December 2003 and 74-59 in New Orleans a year later. This is the first time since 1989 UNO has come to the Hump where MSU is 2-0. Rick Stansbury is 2-0 against Monte Towe.
DID YOU KNOW: Privateer coach Towe not only won a national championship with North Carolina State in 1974, he won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award which is given to the country's top player standing under six feet tall.
*That 1990 loss at UNO was actually a season-rematch, as the Bulldogs had beaten the Privateers on their home court four months earlier.
*UNO is the first 2005-06 opponent that did not post a winning record last season.
BULLDOG NOTES: Mississippi State is having trouble scoring, but the Bulldogs currently lead the SEC in field-goal defense allowing just 34% shooting. Opponents are also hitting just 22% of their three-point attempts, again best in the league this early-season.
*Defeats by Northwestern State and Southeastern Louisiana marked the first time since 1985-86 that Mississippi State has lost consecutive non-conference games. It might be reason to worry that those setbacks were also part of State's last three-game losing string in non-league action.
*State's last three-game losing streak was in January, 2003 (Florida, @LSU, @Alabama).
*The last time MSU lost to three teams from Louisiana in the same season was 1969-70. The defeats were to Louisiana College and Louisiana Tech (consecutively) in December and then to LSU, twice, in SEC season. The last time State lost three consecutive games to Louisiana schools was in 1950-51 with back-to-back losses to Tulane and one to LSU.
*And we have to go all the way back to the first year of Mississippi A&M hoops to find three-straight losses to three different Louisiana teams, not necessarily schools, because the winners in order were: LSU, Tulane, and the New Orleans YMCA in 1908-09. That was a tough three-night road trip for Coach T.H. Werner's first and as it turned out only Maroon team.
*Rick Stansbury teams are 82-21 in non-conference play, both regular- and post-season. His squads are 29-7 in the month of November.
*Guard Jamall Edmondson's 14 points against Southeastern Louisiana give him 211 as a Bulldog; he is also the only active State player with over 200 career points. The injured Dietric Slater has 176, and Wesley Morgan 114 ponits.
*Morgan now has consecutive double-double games, with a 10-point, 21-rebound night against SELa following his 13/11 night against Northwestern State. His 21 boards on Monday tied the career-best game by all-American Lawrence Roberts, in 2004 at Alabama.