*Charlotte is one of 14 opponents on State's 2006-07 schedule which played in a post-season tournament last March, appearing in the NIT and advancing to the second round. Nine Bulldog foes played in the NCAA tourney.
About the 49ers: First things first: the name is Charlotte. No state, no hyphen. Longtime college hoops observers will still slip into using the old North Carolina-Charlotte moniker, and for honorable reasons as the title has long been associated with a competitive program. It should be more of the same in this ninth season under the direction of Bobby Lutz (156-98), who directed the 49ers to a 19-13 finish last winter and second place in the Atlantic-10 at 11-5. Though, the fact a league runner-up had to settle for a NIT berth might say something. And expectations for this year are a bit lower as CU was tabbed to finish fourth in the A-10. Despite a starting group of three seniors and two juniors the squad has been somewhat erratic early, beating Hofstra one day and losing to hot-shooting North Texas the next. The 49ers did hold up very well at #17-ranked Syracuse in a 79-67 loss and come in after taking care of Georgia State 90-72. There's no secret to how CU likes to play offense: from long range. The outside accuracy isn't great but the 49ers make up for efficiency with frequency, pumping up 27 trey-tries per game so far. This is nothing new as in all eight of Lutz's seasons a 49er has led the A-10 in made-treys per contest. This team's top-gunners to watch are De'Angelo Alexander and Leemire Goldwire. Alexander, who began his college career at Oklahoma, led the A-10 with 96 treys last season and enters his senior season a Wooden Award nominee, having raised his scoring and rebounding from last year's 17.0 and 6.1. And he's not just a gunner, leading the team with 10 assists in four games. Of course that's not a lot, likely reflecting the freedom 49ers have to make their own plays. PG Carlos Williams also looks to score first, and his seven points keyed a 10-0 run at the end of the Georgia State game. Goldwire his 35% from the arc and popped a career-high 26 points against Hofstra. And don't foul this guy, as he's a 96% marksman at the arc. Freshman G Ian Anderson (please, no Jethro Tull jokes) looks like the next 49er shooter to watch with 42% accuracy at the arc off the bench. About all the team's bulk is concentrated in one player, 6-7, 275-pound forward Antwon Coleman, though the senior is getting to just 2.5 boards through four starts. The real rebounder it skinny 6-9 senior E.J. Drayton, and Courtney Williams is able to sub-in and hit the boards also. The 49ers hoped to have 6-10 Phil Jones in the paint but the freshman didn't qualify, and fellow rookie F David Booker is off to a slow start at 3.5 minutes despite preseason all-freshman predictions. Size would be welcome as CU has just six blocks through four games. For that matter overall defense hasn't been a strong point with only 24 steals. But of course if enough of those long shots fall the 49ers are content to just outscore the opposition.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Charlotte: F E.J. Drayton SR, 6-9 208, 11.8ppg, 10.8rpg; F Antwon Coleman SR, 6-7 275, 6.0ppg, 2.5rpg; G Leemire Goldwire JR, 5-11 190, 15.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 9 3ptrs; G De'Angelo Alexander SR, 6-5 227, 18.0ppg, 7.3rpg, 11 3ptrs; G Carlos Williams JR, 6-1 190, 9.0ppg, 3.8rpg.
Top Backups: F/C Courtney Williams SR, 6-9 235, 3.5ppg, 5.3rpg; G Ian Andersen FR, 6-4 180, 6.5ppg, 8 3ptrs; G/F Charles Dewhurst FR, 6-5 185, 1.0ppg, 1.5rpg.
Mississippi State (based on most recent game): F Richard Delk, SO, 6-4 175, 4.5ppg, 2.3apg; F Piotr Stelmach, SR, 6-9 204, 3.8ppg, 5.3rpg; C Charles Rhodes, JR, 6-8 240, 13.8ppg, 6.3rpg; G Reginald Delk, SO, 6-4 175, 8.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 6 3ptrs; G Jamont Gordon, SO, 6-4 225, 14.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 4 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G Barry Stewart, FR, 6-2 165, 11.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 8 3ptrs; G Ben Hansbrough, FR, 6-3 200, 7.8ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.8apg; F Jarvis Varnado, FR, 6-9 195, 4.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 6 blks; C Vernon Goodridge, JR, 6-9 225, 2.0ppg, 1.0rpg.
The Series: The programs have met just twice, most recently last season when the Bulldogs went to Charlotte and scored a 53-38 victory. In that win State held the 49ers to their fewest points and worst shooting (21.7%). The Bulldogs also won the other meeting, back in 1972 by a 87-68 score also in Charlotte. This is the first 49er visit to Starkville.
By The Numbers:
Points Per Game: MSU 70.0, CU 74.8
PPG Allowed: MSU 58.8, CU 78.5
FG Shooting: MSU 47.7%, CU 39.2%
FG Defense: MSU 34.0%, CU 44.2%
3PT Shooting: MSU 37.5%, CU 29.6%
3PT Made Per Game: MSU 6.8, CU 8.0
3PT Att's. Per Game: MSU 18.0, CU 27.0
Rebounding: MSU 38.5, CU 40.2
Rebounds Margin: MSU +6.3, CU +7.3
FT Shooting: MSU 67.7%, CU 72.0%
Assists PG: MSU 13.3, CU 9.8
Turnover Margin: MSU –5.0, CU +1.0
Bulldog Basketball Notes: Mississippi State lost its NCAA-leading streak of consecutive road non-conference wins in the first attempt of the season. Until falling at Clemson 69-66 last week, the Bulldogs had won 15-straight contests played on a non-league foe's home court, a string dating back to December 2001. Overall, Rick Stansbury teams are still 16-4 in such games going back to 1998.
*Stansbury, his ninth season in charge now underway, now has coached the second-most Bulldog basketball games of any MSU mentor at 258. He broke his tie with the legendary Babe McCarthy two tipoffs into this year and is now 96 games in back of his former boss Coach Richard Williams who directed 354 Dog games. Stansbury has 166 victories and needs four more to catch McCarthy for second place on the career list. Williams had 191 wins.
*In Stansbury's nine seasons, the Bulldogs are now 32-9 in November games but have lost their last two contests in the month.
*After watching freshmen set the pace for a couple of games, veterans have taken over the team's scoring lead. Soph G Jamont Gordon now tops the chart with his 14.0 average through four contests, largely thanks to a career-best 21 points in the loss to Winthrop. Junior F/C Charles Rhodes is close behind at 13.8 points, but he has been a bit more consistent so far scoring 14, 10, 11, and 20. That last total, at Clemson, is all the more impressive as early fouls kept Rhodes sidelined 15 first-half minutes. It was the sixth 20-point performance of Rhodes' career, and extended his stretch of double-digit scoring to 22 games dating back to last December 30.
*Rhodes has also crossed the 500-point threshold. After 49 career games he has 503, along with 262 rebounds. The minimums for top-20 status at MSU are 1,144 points and 564 rebounds.
*Rhodes had a 29-game string of consecutive starts snapped when he did not help tip-off the Winthrop game, due to lax practice efforts according to his coach. Rhodes still played 32 minutes off the bench before fouling out. His place in the starting five was taken by freshman Jarvis Varnado for his first college tipoff. The rookie played nine total minutes.
*Meanwhile Gordon lost his double-digit streak, which reached 15 games before he was held to nine at Clemson. Still State has been able to almost book the points Gordon will provide; he averaged 13.8 as a freshman, 14.1 in SEC play, and now is averaging 14.0 as a soph.
*He is also on a pace to again lead the Dogs in minutes. Gordon set a freshman MSU record with 988 minutes on court, the only Dog to play in all 30 games for a 32.93. In his last two games Gordon has played 34 and 35 minutes. Gordon has now started 34-straight games.
*Gordon's issues with turnovers as a freshman are well-known, and he has 21 charged this season so far. But the soph has also matched that with 21 assists.
*After setting the freshman-year record for made-treys with 59, soph G Reginald Delk has six in four games. He needs 36 more treys to move into the career top-ten in just two seasons.
*Records are only available back into the mid-1970s. But as best can be judged, Mississippi State set a modern-day standard by holding Loyola-Marymount to 20.7% (12-of-58) shooting in Monday's victory at Humphrey Coliseum.
*By contrast, State's 66% shooting in the opening victory over Nicholls State was the best by a MSU team since a 1991-92 win at Eastern Kentucky.
*But the last two games have seen State beaten on the boards; 42-36 by Winthrop, 35-33 by Clemson. Last year only once were the Bulldogs out-rebounded in consecutive games, in a road swing of South Carolina-LSU.
*The Bulldogs have blocked 19 shots; Varnado has six of those and soph Vernon Goodridge three.