STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Riding the momentum of a seven-game winning streak, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-2) close out the 2006 calendar year by traveling to Fairfax, Va., to take on reigning NCAA Final Four participant George Mason University (5-4) Saturday afternoon. Tip-off at George Mason's 10,000-seat Patriot Center is set for noon ET (11 a.m. CT).
Saturday's MSU-GMU contest is scheduled to be televised live by CSS, with veteran Mississippi State sportscaster and administrator Jim Ellis along with former Bulldog head basketball coach Richard Williams slated to handle the play-by-play duties and color analysis, respectively. The contest can also be heard on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 123.
Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) is a 24-hour regional sports network serving approximately 5.5 million cable subscribers across 12 southeastern states. Within the state of Mississippi, CSS is available on Comcast in the cities of Corinth, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Okolona, Tupelo/Fulton, West Point and Jackson. Bailey Cable carries CSS in Crystal Springs, Hazelhurst, Magee, Mendenhall and Terry, while Vista III airs the network in Oxford.
From Virginia, the Bulldogs will head directly to Columbia, Mo., to ring in the new year and wrap up regular-season, non-conference competition by meeting the Missouri Tigers Tuesday night (Jan. 2). Tip-off for Tuesday's inter-conference battle between the SEC and Big 12 is slated for 7 p.m. CT at Mizzou Arena, and the game is scheduled to be televised live by FSN South/SUN Sports.
Owners of their longest winning streak in two years, coach Rick Stansbury's 9-2 Bulldogs won their seventh straight contest just prior to the Christmas break with an 89-63 victory over New Orleans, Dec. 21, at Jackson's Mississippi Coliseum. Undefeated during the month of December, MSU has claimed its half-dozen decisions this month by an average margin of 24.5 points per game.
Coming off a school-record, 15-blocked shot effort against UNO, the Bulldogs enter the weekend leading the SEC as a team in overall field-goal percentage defense (.351), three-point field-goal percentage defense (.225) and blocks (7.36 bpg). Sophomore all-SEC standout Jamont Gordon continues to lead State in scoring (16.0 ppg; 7th in SEC), rebounding (7.7 rpg; 8th) and assists (4.9 apg; 6th). Freshman guard Barry Stewart averages 11.7 points an outing as a reserve, while junior all-SEC forward Charles Rhodes has upped his scoring average to 11.4 points per game on the year following a season-best, 25-point performance against New Orleans in his hometown of Jackson just prior to the holiday break.
Picked in the preseason to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association race, George Mason brought a 5-4 record into Thursday's CAA season opener at Drexel. Guided by 10th-year head coach Jim Larranaga, the Patriots lost three starters from last year's 28-7 Final Four club. Set to play only its third home game of the season Saturday against MSU, GMU is led in scoring by junior Folarin Campbell (16.1 ppg). The preseason second-team all-CAA performer also tops the club in assists (3.9 apg) and steals (17). Sophomore guard John Vaughan averages 13.6 points an outing, while preseason first-team all-league junior forward Will Thomas adds 12.1 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per contest.