STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With renewed enthusisam after Wednesday's 77-67 home win over in-state rival Mississippi, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State (10-5, 1-1 SEC) travel to Lexington, Ky., this weekend to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (13-3, 2-0 SEC) Saturday evening. Tip-off time Saturday night at Kentucky's famed 23,000-seat Rupp Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT).
The 101st all-time series meeting between MSU and UK will be televised live on FSN South/SUN Sports, with Dave Neal calling the play-by-play action and former Vanderbilt standout Barry Booker providing the color analysis. The inter-divisional league contest will also be aired live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 161.
Having earlier this week snapped a three-game losing skid with Wednesday's 10-point home triumph over Ole Miss, coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs are 10-5 overall on the year and 1-1 in league play. After closing out non-conference competition with road losses to both George Mason (63-59) and Missouri (83-75) just after Christmas and New Year's, respectively, MState opened SEC action by dropping a hard-fought 92-84 decision to 19th-ranked Tennessee last Sunday in Knoxville. Coming off their third double-digit blocked shot effort in the last seven games with 10 rejects against the Rebels, the Bulldogs average a league-leading 7.13 blocks per outing. MSU also continues to top the SEC in three-point field-goal percentage defense (.266).
Individually, sophomore Jamont Gordon paces State and ranks among the league's top eight leaders in scoring (15.5 ppg; 8th), rebounding (7.5 rpg; 8th) and assists (4.8 apg; 6th). Continuing his fine play versus conference competition, junior Charles Rhodes is averaging 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest after totaling 17 points, eight boards and four blocks against Mississippi. Steady freshman guard Barry Stewart averages 11.7 points an outing and ranks eighth among the SEC's top three-point shooters (.398). Senior swingman Dietric Slater recorded his fourth career double-double in his 2006-07 home season debut with 16 points and 12 rebounds versus Ole Miss earlier this week.
Guided by 10th-year head coach Tubby Smith, Kentucky sports a 13-3 overall record and nine-game winning streak heading into this weekend. The Wildcats are 2-0 in league play after knocking off Auburn (84-57) at home and Mississippi (68-58) on the road. Kentucky leads the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.370), while SEC West rivals Alabama (.373) and Mississippi State (.373) follow close behind. Junior center Randolph Morris leads the Wildcats in scoring (16.4 ppg; 4th in SEC), rebounding (8.1 rpg; 7th) and blocks (2.1 bpg; 6th). Junior guards Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford are both averaging 13.6 points per game for UK. While boasting a 9-0 home record this season, the Wildcats' trio of losses have come against UCLA and Memphis during the EA Sports Maui Invitational and at North Carolina.
Saturday's MSU-UK contest will mark a Bluegrass State homecoming of sorts for native Kentuckians Rick Stansbury (Battletown), Phil Cunningham (Campbellsville) and Mark White (Russellville) on the Bulldog coaching staff, as well as for junior walk-on guard and State team co-captain Billy Begley (Henderson).
STARKVILLE, MISS. - The Mississippi State soccer team was awarded the NSCAA/adidas Team Academic Award or the 2005-06 school year, Thursday morning.
MState had a Fall Team Average of 3.37, and 3.31 in the Spring for a composite GPA of 3.34. Two hundred thirty-five women's teams in all divisions earned the award this year, including 90 Division I institutions.
State was one of six SEC institutions to earn the award, and led all conference schools with its 3.34 GPA. Six players earned a 4.0 GPA in at least one semester, with Ashlee Drake and Anna Goblirsch earning a 4.0 in both the Fall and Spring.
To be eligible for the award, the team must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and the institution must be a current NSCAA College Services member to be eligible.
Mississippi State finished the 2006 season with a 2-16-0 record, 1-10-0 in the SEC.