*Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is one of two schools (including Central Arkansas) in their first year as members of the Southland Conference, which now numbers a dozen. The school previously competed as an independent. Earlier this season State beat SC member Nicholls State. TA&MCC reinstituted athletics in 1997 and became a full NCAA Division I member in 2002.
*Bulldog sophomore guards Reginald and Richard Delk turn 20 on Saturday.
About the Islanders: Bulldog teams have seen many Southland Conference clubs over the years, but this is State's first exposure to the Corpus Christi branch of the Texas A&M system. While the more initials used usually means easy pickings in football, the converse is too often true on hardwood and the Islanders are a good example. Coach Ronnie Arrow's program posted 20 wins in his fifth season at the school, and his sixth edition returns 12 lettermen with four starters. They opened with three wins, including a 82-73 victory at Detroit, before the first loss came Wednesday night at unbeaten Oklahoma State by a 95-73 score. The Islanders were surprisingly skaky in their turn on TV at Stillwater, with five fast turnovers but settled down and gave the Cowboys a pretty good contest. Scouting for the Islanders can't be easy given how Arrow is using his roster. First, though the same starting five has opened every game so far ten players are averaging 10 or more minutes through four games but none more than 26. More interestingly, three of the top four in scoring average have yet to start a game; ditto for the team's current assist leader. So don't expect the squad that reports for tipoff to be on the court very long or any grouping to remain together more than a few minutes. Arrow proclaims the backcourt as this team's strength, yet the Islanders don't throw up lots of long jumpers with just 21 made-treys to date. Instead every Islander moves the ball around to find the highest-percentage shots available. Bulky F/C ‘Scooby' Johnson has benefited most with 14.5 points, but there isn't one go-to guy in this scheme. Second-leading scorer and top outside threat G Josh Washington comes off the bench and gets 14.3 points, while skinny F Cedric Smith adds about a dozen points in relief as well. Washington posted a career-high 25 points with five treys at Detroit, though, so don't look for any obvious scouting trends from this team. Junior Chris Daniels steps in as a 7-0 center and posted his first career double-double at OSU. And while F Kevin Menifee has gotten almost five assists per game as a starter, G Rashad Mintz gets 5.8 as a substitute. Oh, and while the Islanders prefer to score from close range when they do loft a longball it works out reasonably often. Defensively, opponents are making under 30% from the arc, and CC does a good job keeping a positive turnover ratio.
Projected Starting Lineups:
TA&MCC: F Seth Engelken SR, 6-7 205, 8.5ppg, 3.5rpg; F Kevin Menifee SR 6-5 190, 5.0ppg, 3.8rpg, 4.5apg; F/C Scooby Johnson JR, 6-7 240, 14.5ppg, 5.8rpg; G Taurean Mitchell SR, 6-1 185, 5.0ppg, 2.0apg; G Josh Ervin SR, 6-1 180, 5.8ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.5apg.
Top Backups: G Josh Washington SR, 6-3 200, 14.3ppg, 12 3ptrs; F Cedric Smith, SR, 6-7 205, 11.8ppg, 3.0rpg; C Chris Daniels JR, 7-0 265, 9.3ppg, 4.8rpg; G Rashad Mintz JR, 5-10 190, 2.3ppg, 5.8apg.
Mississippi State: F Richard Delk, SO, 6-4 175, 5.0ppg, 2.0apg; F Jarvis Varnado, FR, 6-9 195, 3.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 7 blks; C Charles Rhodes, JR, 6-8 240, 13.2ppg, 6.4rpg; G Reginald Delk, SO, 6-4 175, 7.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 6 3ptrs; G Jamont Gordon, SO, 6-4 225, 15.2ppg, 9.5rpg, 6 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G Barry Stewart, FR, 6-2 165, 11.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 10 3ptrs; G Ben Hansbrough, FR, 6-3 200, 9.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.0apg; F Piotr Stelmach, SR, 6-9 204, 3.4ppg, 4.4rpg; C Vernon Goodridge, JR, 6-9 225, 2.0ppg, 1.0rpg.
By The Numbers:
Points Per Game: MSU 71.6ppg, CC 79.0
PPG Allowed: MSU 60.8ppg, CC 68.8
FG Shooting: MSU 46.9%, CC 51.1%
FG Defense: MSU 34.1%, CC 45.6%
3PT Shooting: MSU 36.5%, CC 38.2%
3PT Made Per Game: MSU 7.0, CC 5.3
3PT Att's. Per Game: MSU 19.2, CC 13.8
Rebounding: MSU 40.2, CC 35.0
Rebounds Margin: MSU +6.2, CC +6.5
FT Shooting: MSU 63.4%, CC 69.6%
Assists PG: MSU 12.6, CC 18.5
Turnover Margin: MSU –4.0, CC +2.0
Did You Know: The Islanders have played two home games in the 8,500-seat American Bank Center, but only a combined 3,920 have shown up for those two dates.
*TA&MCC is the only MSU opponent in a current six-game stretch which did not play in the postseason last March.
Bulldog Basketball Notes: In nine seasons under Rick Stansbury, State teams are now 92-24 in non-conference competition and have won 65 of the last 74 non-league games.
*Stansbury has 167 career wins and is two from tying the legendary Babe McCarthy for second-most career victories at State. Richard Williams leads the career-list with 191 wins.
*After going 3-2 this November, Stansbury teams are now 33-9 for that month. In this tenure State teams are 50-9 in all December games.
*Soph G/F Jamont Gordon had his streak of double-digit scoring games snapped when he posted just nine points at Clemson. Gordon bounced back with 20 against Charlotte, almost matching the career-high of 21 a week ago against Winthrop. He has equaled the two 20-point efforts of his whole freshman season, and raised his scoring average for this season to 15.2.
*Gordon also notched a dozen rebounds Wednesday night, one short of his career-best 13 last year (vs. LSU). Through 35 career games the 6-4 ‘guard' has grabbed 251 rebounds.
*After leading the SEC in turnovers last year, Gordon has that part of his game under somewhat-better control. He still has lost the ball 25 times through five games…but has cancelled the mistakes with exactly 25 assists.
*The Bulldogs have had more assists than turnovers once this season, at Clemson. But the ratio was down to 10 assists against 11 turnovers in this week's win over Charlotte.
*Junior F/C Charles Rhodes kept his double-digit streak going with 11 points against Charlotte. He has now scored ten or more points in 23-straight games, dating back to last December 30. He has scored 14, 10, 11, 20, and 11 points in five outings this season, but has shot 24-of-44 (55%).
*And after making one three-point shot, in seven attempts, for his first two State seasons, Rhodes is 2-of-6 this year.
*Rhodes is past the 500-career point threshold with 514 in 50 career games, and with 269 rebounds. The minimums for top-20 status at MSU are 1,144 points and 564 rebounds.
*Three Dogs have started all five games this early season: Gordon and Delk twins Richard and Reginald. Freshman C/F Jarvis Varnado started the Winthrop game in place of Rhodes, and this week took the place of senior F Piotr Stelmach after the latter started four games. Stansbury used ten starting lineups in 30 games lasts season.
*The Bulldogs have blocked 24 shots this year, slightly ahead of last year's full-season pace. Rookie Varnado has seven of these swats and both Rhodes and soph C Vernon Goodridge five.
*Soph G Reginald Delk set a MSU freshman record for made-treys with 59. He has hit six through five games this season, shooting 6-of-24. Delk needs 36 treys to move into the MSU career top-ten in just his second season.
*Veteran backcourt Dogs (the Delks and Gordon) are 15-of-51 from the arc, or 28.4%; rookie Gs Barry Stewart and Ben Hansbrough are 16-of-35, 45.7%.
*After getting beaten on the boards in consecutive games (Winthrop, Clemson) the Bulldogs bounced back to out-rebound Charlotte 47-41.
*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.