Bulldogs Ranked 12th in AP Poll

STARKVILLE, Miss. - With a No. 12 national ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball preseason poll released Monday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are ranked in the wire service's preseason poll for the first time since the team's Final Four season of 1995-96.

The 1995-96 Bulldog club was ranked ninth nationally in the preseason by The Associated Press and 12th in the USA Today/CNN coaches' poll en route to claiming the school's first-ever SEC Tournament championship and subsequently earning the school's first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance.

This year's State squad is also ranked 13th nationally in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll.

A year ago after capturing the 2002 SEC Tournament title in Atlanta and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in Dallas, the Bulldogs' No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press poll last season marked the team's highest season-ending position in the wire service poll since earning a No. 6 national ranking in the final 1962-63 AP poll.

After posting an 80-56 home exhibition win over the Branch West Basketball Academy of California this past Saturday, coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs will conclude their preseason slate by playing host to the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters this Thursday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at MSU's Humphrey Coliseum, and tickets are available at $12 apiece. In the midst of their nine-game, 18-day 2002 Fall College Tour, the 3-0 Globetrotters will play at Vanderbilt Monday night and then travel to Maryland to take on the reigning national champion Terrapins Tuesday night before heading to MSU.

The Bulldogs will tip off their 91st season of collegiate basketball competition on Saturday, Nov. 23, when they begin a season-opening, six-game homestand by playing host to Louisiana-Lafayette.

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