STARKVILLE, Miss. - Playing at home for the first time since Dec. 18, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State (9-5, 0-1 SEC) begin the home portion of their Southeastern Conference schedule Wednesday evening by playing host to the Mississippi Rebels (11-4, 0-1 SEC) on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the 234th State-Ole Miss series renewal is set for 7 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum. Breaking a string of nine straight televised games for MSU, Wednesday's contest can be heard on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 147.
Having played their last four games away from Starkville, coach Rick Stansbury's 9-5 Bulldogs are looking to snap a three-game losing skid after dropping a hard-fought 92-84 road decision to the 19th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers this past Sunday in Knoxville during their SEC opener. Following the Christmas break, MState fell at both George Mason (63-59) and Missouri (83-75) to halt a seven-game winning streak. As a team, the Bulldogs still pace the SEC in three-point field-goal percentage defense (.258), while also ranking third in the league in made 3-pointers per game (8.00/gm) after hitting 10 treys in each of their last two outings against Tennessee and Missouri. Also defensively, MSU ranks second in the conference in blocked shots (6.93 bpg; T-9th in the NCAA) and rebounding (40.7 rpg).
On the heels of nearly posting MSU's second triple-double in school history wth a career-high 25 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists at Tennessee this past weekend, sophomore Jamont Gordon continues to lead the Bulldogs and rank among the league's top 10 leaders in scoring (16.0 ppg; 6th in SEC), rebounding (7.9 rpg; 8th) and assists (5.0 apg; 5th). Freshman guard Barry Stewart contributes 11.6 points an outing and ranks among the SEC's three-point leaders off the Bulldog bench, while junior forward Charles Rhodes is averaging 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest after coming off a 15-point, 10-rebound effort at Tennessee this past Sunday.
Guided by first-year head coach and Louisville, Miss., native Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss is 11-4 overall on the year and 0-1 in SEC play after dropping a 68-58 home decision to Kentucky this past Saturday in Oxford. The 10-point setback to the Wildcats was UM's first home loss of the campaign. The Rebels' three non-conference losses this season all came on the road to Connecticut (77-59), Memphis (82-70) and Saint Louis (59-56). With their top six scorers all ranking as upperclassmen, the Rebels are led in scoring by senior guard Bam Doyne, who rates as the SEC's third-leading scorer (17.6 ppg) behind Tennessee's Chris Lofton and Glen Davis of LSU. Senior guard Clarence Sanders and junior center Dwayne Curtis average 15.5 and 12.7 points per game, respectively.
In the most-played hardwood rivalry in the history of the Southeastern Conference, the Bulldogs own a 131-102 all-time advantage over the Rebels in a long-standing series that spans back to the 1913-14 campaign. Having claimed 13 of the last 16 head-to-head meetings, including a recent eight-game series win streak that was snapped last year in Oxford, State is 13-4 overall against Ole Miss since 1998-99 and has not lost at home to the Rebels in eight previous Starkville meetings during the Stansbury era. MSU has prevailed in 21 of the last 23 State-Ole Miss contests held on the Starkville campus, including last year's 84-55 home triumph over UM.