M&F Bank Basketball Scouting Report

Mississippi State (3-3) resumes the fall semester schedule by hosting Murray State (3-1) in a noon game at Humphrey Coliseum. There is no live telecast. The game broadcast can be heard on the 29-station MSU basketball network.

About the Racers: Billy Kennedy knew the expectations were annually-high when he took over the reigning Ohio Valley champions a year ago. A 16-14 debut year was well-short of those standards, but Kennedy—who won two conference titles in six year at Southeastern Louisiana—now has a more mature roster to work with. And, a healthy Kevin Thomas, who missed all but four games with a knee injury. Now the junior point guard is up to speed, directing the show, and getting the ball to a variety of backcourt scorers. Most notably guard Danero Thomas. A good freshman off the bench, the sophomore starter has tripled his offensive output in the early going and doubled his rebounding. He already has more treys this first month than he had all last year, and is rated the team's top perimeter defender. Tyler Holloway balances the outside offense with a dozen treys, half of them in the win against Arkansas State this week, but also gets the ball to teammates to score. He's already tenth in career three-pointers at MSU. Bruce Carter was second-team all-OVC last year at 12.1 points-per, but is off to a slower start as a senior. The Racers went with a four-guard lineup in their last outing, and the best scorer off the bench is another backcourt man in Ray George. Kennedy tried starting husky Georges Fotso in the post for four games, then switched to skinny Tony Easley who had been giving good points off the bench. He's also a shot-blocking presence this lineup needs, while forward Marvin Williams helps out in the team's evident weak area of overall rebounding. Turnovers have also been an issue to-date, and Kennedy hasn't been pleased with shot selection. But any squad that can take and make a lot of long shots is a foe to fear.

Probable Lineup: G Danero Thomas SO 6-1 190, 15.5ppg, 5.5rpg; C Tony Easley SO 6-9 200, 9.0ppg, 4.5rpg; G Tyler Holloway JR 6-2 175, 14.0ppg, 2.8apg, 12 3prts; G Kevin Thomas JR 6-1 170, 6.5ppg, 2.8rpg; G Bruce Carter SR 6-4 200, 7.0ppg, 4.3rpg.

Top Reserves: C Georges Fotso SO 6-8 240, 0.5ppg, 1.0rpg; F Marvin Williams SO 6-6 215, 6.0ppg, 5.0rpg; G Ray George SR 6-4 190, 7.0ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.8apg.

Probable Bulldog Lineup: F Charles Rhodes JR 6-8 245, 14.8ppg, 53% fgs, 7.5rpg, 10 blks; C Jarvis Varnado SO 6-9 210, 4.8ppg, 8.7rpg, 24 blks; G/F Jamont Gordon JR 6-4 230, 17.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 13 3ptrs, 3.7apg; G Ben Hansbrough SO 6-3 205, 10.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.8apg, 12 3ptrs; G Barry Stewart SO 6-2 170, 11.0ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.0apg, 9 3ptrs.

Top Reserves: C/F Brian Johnson JR 6-9 245, 4.3ppg, 3.2rpg; G Phil Turner rFR 6-3 170, 2.8ppg, 2.3rpg.

How They Compare:

Points Per Game: MSU 70.0, MU 73.5

Points Allowed: MSU 63.7, MU 68.2

Field Goal Shooting: MSU 44.5%, MU 52.6%

Shooting Defense: MSU 35.7%, MU 45.4%

3-Point Shooting: MSU 33.6%, MU 38.2%

3-Pointers Attempted: MSU 20.8, MU 13.8

Free Throw Shooting: MSU 64.2%, MU 65.1%

Free Throw Attempts: MSU 18.1, MU 26.5

Rebounding: MSU 42.5, MU 30.5

Rebound Margin: MSU +6.5, MU +1.0

Blocked Shots: MSU 7.5, MU 3.5

Assists Average: MSU 13.0, MU 14.3

Turnovers Average: MSU 16.8, MU 16.8

Steals Average: MSU 5.3, MU 9.5

The Series: Or, such as it is. These respective MSUs have played eight times, but not since 1962. State lead 6-2 after that last meeting. Murray State is 8-20 against SEC teams all-time, and the last win was a decade ago with a 1997 victory over Arkansas.

Bulldog Notes: Two Bulldogs joined the 1,000-Point Club in November. First, junior G Jamont Gordon reached that plateau with the second basket of the second game this season. He now has 1,081 points in 71 career games. And Sunday, senior F/C Charles Rhodes also joined the club. By scoring 25 points against Miami, Rhodes now has 1,002 in 85 career games. They are the 28th and 29th Bulldogs respectively to reach 1,000 points.

*It's a race this week to see which of these Dogs also becomes the next 1,000-point/500-rebound man, something only done by 16 State players to-date. Rhodes has 494 rebounds to his credit in four seasons; Gordon 490 in three.

*It will take 564 rebounds to move into the MSU career top-25.

*Gordon has scored double-digits every game this season, and in 63 of his 71 career games. He has averaged 15.2 points for his career. The last time he did not get at least ten points was at Georgia on February 24, or 14 games ago.

*Gordon has one double-double this year, in the Clemson game with 23 points and 12 rebounds. That gives him ten D-Ds for his career.

*Gordon began this junior season standing ninth on the MSU career assists list. After six games he has climbed one spot, to 8th place at 338. He needs four assists this game to catch Butch Pierre (1981-84) for seventh place.

*Last year Gordon was the only NCAA player with averages of over 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was also the only underclassman on the Coaches All-SEC team.

*Gordon has started every game of his college career.

*Rhodes' 25 points against Miami Oh. Sunday was the most by a Bulldog this season, and a bucket shy of his career-best game, 27 points as a freshman against Georgia.

*Rhodes has blocked ten shots in six games, giving him 111 for his career. He's closing in on Wiley Peck (1976-79) for 6th place on the list.

*Rhodes is under his career field-goal shooting pace early this year at 52.8%. He was a 56.0% shooter his first three seasons. And his free throw shooting is off as well, from 70.7% the preceding seasons to 54.2% this year.

*After posting six double-doubles in the previous three years, Rhodes has a pair of D-Ds already this season against Cal-Irvine and Miami.

*Sophomore G Barry Stewart re-wrote the MSU freshman record with 68 three-point goals, making 39.1% of his long shots. He's off to a slower start this year though at 9-of-30 from the arc. As a rookie he was 12-of-26 in the first six games, all off the bench.

*In the three home games, Stewart is 3-of-15 on trey-tries; on neutral floors he is 6-of-15.

*But, as a starter Stewart has become a better passer with 3.0 assists this year; he averaged 1.2 as a freshman backup.

*Sophomore G Ben Hansbrough has made at least one three-pointer in every game this year. He hit treys in 24 of 35 freshman games, including six of the last seven, for the third-most treys by a Bulldog rookie ever (47).

*Hansbrough had a dozen three-point goals his first six games as a freshman; after six contests this season he again has 12 treys.

*Soph C Jarvis Varnado set a rookie-year record by blocking 67 shots last season, or 1.9 each freshman game. This season, Varnado already has 24 blocks in six games, or 4.0-per, and he hasn't failed to swat at least two shots each game. He had six-each in the first two contests.

*In just 41 career games Varnado is up to 91 blocks, placing him seventh on the MSU all-time list.

*Junior F/C Brian Johnson, who redshirted last year as a transfer, averaged 3.2 rebounds in 30 games at Louisville in 2005-06. Through six games with Mississippi State he is averaging…3.2 rebounds.

*Coach Rick Stansbury now has 188 career victories, and is three-shy of catching his former boss Richard Williams (1987-98) for the MSU record of 191 wins.

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