STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Following a week away from game competition because of final exams, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-2) conclude their current three-game homestand by playing host to South Alabama (5-3) Saturday evening on the MSU campus. Because of commencement exercises taking place in Humphrey Coliseum in the morning, tip-off for Saturday's 10th series renewal between MSU and USA is set for 7 p.m. CT. The contest is slated to be televised live by SportSouth.
With Dave Neal set to call the play-by-play action and former Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis ready to provide the color analysis for Saturday night's regionally televised contest, SportSouth reaches more than eight million cable and satellite subscribers across a six-state region comprised of Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and regions of central and western North Carolina. SportSouth can be seen on various cable and direct-to-home satellite subscribers in the region, including Northland Cable in Starkville (Ch. 49), Cable One in Columbus (Ch. 59), Comcast in Jackson (Ch. 48), Vista III in Oxford (Ch. 73), Comcast in Memphis (Ch. 52), DirecTV Channel 631, and Dish Network Channel 437.
Having already knocked off both Charlotte (78-69) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (96-72) during their current homestand, coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs are now 4-2 on the season. With a 168-92 career record in his ninth season at the State hoops helm, Stansbury is one victory away from tying Babe McCarthy (169-85; 1956-65) for second place on the school's all-time wins list behind Richard Williams (191-163; 1987-98). With four players scoring in double figures for the year, MSU continues to be paced in scoring (16.7 ppg; 6th in SEC), rebounding (9.0 rpg; 3rd) and assists (4.8 apg; 4th) by preseason all-SEC sophomore Jamont Gordon. Junior all-SEC forward Charles Rhodes is second on the team in both scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg), though he missed last Saturday's game against TAMUCC with a sprained right wrist. Current SEC Freshman of the Week Ben Hansbrough is averaging 11.5 points per game, while leading the league in free-throw percentage (89.5%) as well as ranking second in three-point field-goal percentage (60.0%) and third in assist/turnover ratio (3.00).
Picked during the preseason to finish second in the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference, South Alabama owns a 5-3 mark after dropping an 82-71 decision at Auburn this past Wednesday. Guided by reigning Sun Belt Coach of the Year and former Kentucky standout John Pelphrey, the Jaguars' other two losses this season have also come on the road (73-63 at Fresno State & 65-64 at Bowling Green). Preseason second-team all-Sun Belt Conference performer Demetric Bennett tops South Alabama in both scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg). Veteran guards Daon Merritt and Carlos Smith follow at 12.1 and 11.4 points per contest, respectively.
Mississippi State is undefeated in nine previous hardwood meetings with the South Alabama Jaguars in a series that dates back to the 1969-70 campaign. Stansbury is 4-0 all-time against South Alabama with MSU having claimed solo series wins over the Jaguars during four straight seasons beginning in 2001-02 and running through 2004-05.
In addition, the Bulldogs have prevailed in 18 consecutive December home contests dating back to the 2000-01 season and now own a 25-1 composite record in December home games during the Stansbury era.
STARKVILLE, Miss. The Mississippi State University women's basketball team (4-2) travels to Hattiesburg on Sunday to face in-state rival Southern Mississippi (3-6) in a 2 p.m. contest at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Golden Eagles lead the overall series with MSU, 19-12 and won the last meeting between the two schools on Nov. 29, 2005, 64-57, in Starkville. Last season's win marked the first in the series for USM since Nov. 22, 1996.
Having taken a week off for final exams, MSU enters Sunday's road game seeking to rebound back into the win column after dropping a 76-70 decision to UAB on Dec. 3. Junior Imesia Jackson leads the Lady Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding, averaging 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Behind Jackson, sophomore Robin Porter averages 12.2 points per contest. Against UAB, Porter tallied a career-high 23 points for the first 20+-digit scoring outing of her Maroon and White career. Porter shot 8-for-15 from the field, including going 5-for-7 from behind the arc.
Southern Mississippi fell to Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday evening, 70-49. The Golden Eagles are led by sophomore forward Emer Foley, who averages 18.6 points per contest. Two other USM players Kendra Reed (14.2) and Amber Eugene (15.8) also average scoring in double digits.
MSU continues to lead opponents in scoring margin, rebounding margin and turnover margin. State outscores teams by more than nine points per game and records 4.7 more rebounds than those teams. In the turnover margin, State tallies 4.2 less turnovers and has 2.2 more blocks each game.
Following Sunday's game, MState returns home to face Louisiana Tech on Wednesday evening in a 7 p.m. tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum.