STARKVILLE, Miss. - Ranked among the top 25 teams nationally for the first time in three years, the 25th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-5, 5-0) travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (14-5, 3-2) Wednesday evening. Tip-off for the midweek battle between the SEC Western Division's top two teams is set for 7 p.m. at 19,200-seat Bud Walton Arena.
The contest will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports with Tom Hammond and Larry Conley handling the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively. In the Starkville viewing area and in most counties statewide, the midweek affair can be seen on FSN South. Those fans in the Mississippi counties of Itawamba, Lee, Pontotoc, Union, Prentiss and Tishomingo will be able to watch the game on SportSouth rather than FSN South. The game can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio Channel 201.
Ending a three-year absence from the national polls, coach Rick Stansbury's 14-5 Bulldogs have earned a No. 25 national ranking in this week's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches poll on the strength of a current nine-game winning streak and their first 5-0 start in league play since 1993-94. Most recently, MState posted a convincing 88-68 home triumph over then-No. 15 Ole Miss this past Saturday in Starkville. The Bulldogs are 4-1 on opponents' home floors this season with those four road victories coming in their last four efforts away from Humphrey Coliseum. With a 10-year record of 199-109, MSU's all-time winningest basketball coach is also going after career win No. 200 this week.
Statistically as a team, MSU continues to rank second nationally in both field-goal percentage defense (36.0% behind Georgetown's 35.8%) and blocked shots (8.63 bpg behind Connecticut's 8.74 bpg). The Bulldogs also stand 26th among the NCAA team leaders in rebound margin (+6.6 rpg), 28th in scoring margin (+12.1 ppg) and 37th in scoring defense (61.3 ppg).
Individually, Mississippi State is powered by the veteran all-SEC tandem of junior guard/forward Jamont Gordon (17.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg & 4.4 apg) and senior forward Charles Rhodes (14.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg & 1.3 bpg). Gordon this week has been selected as a top 30 midseason candidate for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award, while Rhodes is coming off a 26-point performance against rival Mississippi in which he hit an efficient 12-of-14 shots from the field.
The near-consensus preseason choice to win the SEC's Western Division, Arkansas brings an identical 14-5 overall record into Wednesday's contest. Guided by first-year head coach John Pelphrey, the Razorbacks are 3-2 in league play and sit in second place behind MSU in the SEC West after claiming a 68-52 road win over the LSU Tigers this past Saturday. With five players averaging 9.0 points per game or better, the Hogs are led in scoring by senior forward Sonny Weems (13.9 ppg). Sophomore guard Patrick Beverley averages 11.8 points and a team-best 6.4 rebounds per contest.
Mississippi State will return to Starkville to begin a two-game homestand by first welcoming the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers for a 6 p.m. tipoff this Saturday at Humphrey Coliseum. MSU then plays host to SEC West rival Alabama next Wednesday evening on the State campus.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's basketball team hosts Florida on Sunday, February 10, 2008, in a 1:30 p.m. televised contest and fans in attendance are asked to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Sponsored by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), the "Think Pink" initiative is a global, unified effort for the WBCA nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women and the leading cause for women between the ages of 20 and 59. For more information on how you can help through volunteer support or monetary donations, contact the WBCA at www.wbca.org.