*Bulldog teams have played eleven ‘home' games away from campus under Coach Rick Stansbury, and are 11-0. Seven games have been in Jackson, and two in both Tupelo and Southaven.
*In their seven trips to Jackson this decade, State's average margin of victory is 21 points. Last year's 78-68 win over Nicholls State was by far the closest contest of the lot.
*Stansbury has won 122 non-conference regular season games in his Bulldog tenure, and 241 overall.
*State has won all six previous meetings with Centenary, all since 1990. The first meeting was in Shreveport, the rest in Humphrey Coliseum including a 77-5 Bulldog win last winter. The only other member of what is now the Summit League that State has played is Oral Roberts, a game won by MSU way back in 1978 long before the league existed.
*Centenary is on a mid-month ‘tour' of Mississippi, having just played at Ole Miss and lost 108-64.
About the Gents: After 15 seasons as an assistant Greg Gary was eager to run his own show, as proven by taking on the challenge of a Centenary program best-known for producing Celtic great Robert Parrish…over three decades ago. Presumably Tulane grad Gary knew what he was getting into though, and while year-one produced just a 8-23 record six of those wins were in the Summit Conference. CU had just ten league wins the whole previous four years for comparison so that counts as progress. But, year-two is effectively starting-over again with the four leading scorers and most of the rebounding muscle all gone from a team that didn't have a lot to begin with. And don't look for many familiar faces from the Gents team that visited Humphrey Coliseum last year with just two who played in that game on this roster. One who didn't was then-freshman David Perez who did work into the rotation and score 5.9 points with 35 threes as a rookie. Perez's soph season is much more productive as a 20-point scorer and 40% marksman from the arc. But then everyone on this guard-dominated team gets to put up his share of shots and from all over the court. In fact Tuesday's game matches squads that between them average 50 trey-tries. The difference of course is that the Bulldogs are able to outscore their foes, whereas the Gents allow almost 86 points-per. In keeping with the sort of squads State has been seeing a lot of lately, Centenary is a smallish team that gets beaten-up around the backboards on each end. It's not just the nine-rebound disparity, either, but the Gents have blocked a grand total of 17 shots through ten games. Gary has tried to get a little more muscle in the lineup lately, such as using 6-6 Matt Marseille in place of eight-game starter guard Maxx Makwaasah. Still the Gents are going to come up short against just about any major-conference club they face, whether on the glass and the stat sheet…and if they keep giving up 49% shooting and all those points, on the final scoreboards as well.
Projected Starting Lineups:
CENTENARY: F Matt Marseille, FR 6-6 200, 8.2ppg, 4.6rpg; F Jerrald Bonham, SR 6-8 210, 9.6ppg, 5.5rpg; G Roman Tubner, JR 6-0 190, 12.6ppg, 3.7rpg; G David Perez, SO 6-3 195, 20.4ppg, 31 3ptrs; G Daman Starring, FR 6-4 190, 11.0ppg, 4.3rpg, 15 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G Pedro Maciel, FR 6-2 180, 5.7ppg, 10 3ptrs; G Maxx Nakwaasah, SO 6-1 200, 8.6ppg, 4.2rpg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Kodi Augustus, JR 6-8 220, 9.8ppg, 6.2rpg, 11 3ptrs; C Jarvis Varnado, SR 6-9, 14.2ppg, 10.7rpg, 58 blks; G/F Ravern Johnson, JR 6-7 175, 14.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 33 3ptrs; G Barry Stewart, SR 6-3 170, 11.9ppg, 28 asts, 23 3ptrs; PG Dee Bost, SO 6-2 170, 11.1ppg, 60 asts, 25 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G/F Phil Turner, JR 6-3 170, 5.4ppg, 5.0rpg; F Romero Osby, SO 6-8 230, 5.4ppg, 3.1rpg; G Riley Benock, JR 6-4 180, 2.3ppg, 7 3ptrs.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 75.6, CU 80.0
Scoring Defense: MSU 59.9, CU 85.9
FG Shooting: MSU 46.7%, CU 43.2%
FG Defense: MSU 36.2%, CU 48.6%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 41.5%, CU 36.9%
3-point Attempts: MSU 270, CU 236
Rebounding: MSU 42.3, CU 32.2
Rebound Margin: MSU +9.1, CU -8.9
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 69.3%, CU 76.1%
Turnovers: MSU 14.1, CU 16.7
BULLDOG NOTES: State teams have taken a defensive approach to games all decade, but this group is really dominating that end of the court. In their six-straight wins the Bulldogs have held the opposition to 33.2% shooting and under 48 points.
*Records fall fast these days in Bulldog Country. It was just last winter that State set a program record with 296 made-threes. The current Dog team is ripping the nets at an even faster pace though with 112 treys in 11 games. And the per-game attempts of 24.5 is even further ahead of last year's rate of 22.8.
*Four Bulldogs have already hit for ten or more treys; and collectively the quartet is making 44% of their tries.
*This team's overall 41.5% outside accuracy is a record pace, too, better than the 38.4% rate of the 1996 Final Four club.
*It's impressive enough that the Bulldogs are better than 4-to-1 in blocking shots, with 92 swats so far. But only 22 shots by State players have been rejected, and none in the last two games.
*The current team pace of 8.4 blocks is far ahead of last year's 7.5 rate when State broke their own SEC record for season swats at 271.
*State would have dominated the opposition that much more if they took better care of the ball. The Dogs have averaged 15 turnovers in their win streak, compared to 10.0 for the opposition. Not that the other guys have been able to score the ball a lot, of course.
*Coming back for a senior season has let C Jarvis Varnado get off to the best pre-SEC start of his career. He has raised his scoring from 12.9 points as a junior to 14.2; his rebounding from 8.8 to 10.7; and his shooting from 55% to 62%.
*The last Bulldog to average a double-double for a season was Lawrence Roberts, in 2004-05. In fact he did it twice.
*Varnado has five double-doubles this senior season, and 20 for his career. He is one of three Dogs in history with a triple-double to his credit.
*Varnado's career 59.7% shooting is third-best in MSU history, though he has been as high as second this season. The record is 63% by Bill Singletary (1970-72), though Varnado has made more field goals than Singletary attempted.
*Varnado had been on a sizzling shooting streak, making 26 of 36 shots in five wins. Then he went 3-of-11 against Houston.
*Still in that game Varnado muscled for 17 rebounds, matching his career-high. That gives the senior 845 career boards and ranks him 6th all-time, two behind Tyrone Washington (1996-99) for top-five status.
*With 1,063 career points Varnado now ranks 29th on the MSU list, having just passed Roberts. He will need 1,199 points for career top-20; and 1,460 for top-ten.
*Ahh, yes, the blocked shots. With five more swats at Houston, Varnado is up to 452 in four Bulldog seasons and is now tied for 5th in NCAA history with Tarvis Williams of Hampton. His next block will tie Varnado with former Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning for 4th place. And the NCAA record of 535 just keeps getting closer.
*With 58 blocks this season Varnado is far ahead of last winter's 4.7 pace when with 170 swats he smashed the SEC one-year mark.
*And Varnado is still leading the nation in average blocks this season.
*Varnado has blocked a shot in 28-straight games, since being blanked in the home game with LSU last February. Before that he had blocks in 34-straight games.
*Varnado has not fouled-out of a game so far this season.
*With his next made-trey, junior G Ravern Johnson will move into MSU's career top-ten. He's thrown in 123 longballs in three seasons, one behind Antonio Johnson (2000-01) in 10th place.
*In the last five games Johnson has hit for three 19 times. He has 33 treys on the third, third-most in the SEC this week, and is hitting 47% at the arc. Though, before going 3-of-10 against Houston he had made exactly 50% of long-shots for the season.
*Still Johnson's career three-point shooting of 40.5% is third-best in program history behind only Shane Power and Marcus Bullard.
*And at Houston, Johnson worked his way to the foul line for the first time since the UT-Pan Am game. He made both chances and is 3-of-3 for the year.
*Johnson still has never fouled out of a college game. In fact he has just 12 personals through eleven games.
*But he is getting more aggressive on the boards, with 16 rebounds in the last three games. Two of them were actually offensive boards!
*Johnson has not made a steal in the last seven games.
*PG Dee Bost has broken out of a shooting and scoring slump that had limited him to just 13 points in the previous three games. Because at Houston he put up 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting, after making just 4-of-21 shots in that cold stretch. His two treys on Saturday were as many as Bost had scored in the prevoous three games.
*This didn't affect his ability to get the ball to teammates though. With six Saturday assists, Bost now has 60 for the season. That's a per-game rate of 5.5 which is far better than the 4.3 clip of last winter when he set the program freshman record.
*With 216 assists in two years Bost is on track to crack the career top-ten in 2010. He needs 314 to tie Ray White (1975-79) for the 10th spot.
*And Bost is suddenly a big Dog on the boards. He's gotten six rebounds in all the last three games, raising his average to 4.8 for the year.
*Bost is a career 73% free throw shooter.
*Bost has started all 47 of his college games, the only Dog on this roster who has never come off the bench.
*Iron Dog G Barry Stewart has been working long and hard of late. In the last three games he has averaged almost 36 minutes on the court.
*This only advances the date when Stewart will set the program record for minutes-played. He has 3,570 for his career and next month will surpass the 3,851 of Jeff Malone (1980-83).
*Stewart, and classmate Varnado, have both played in 116 career games and come February will catch the MSU record of 127 held by Derrick Zimmerman (2000-03).
*His heavy defensive work-load and a sore wrist took a toll on Stewart's early season shooting, which was 36% through nine games. Now in the last two contests the senior has made 14-of-23 shots and six of 11 trey-tries.
*Stewart has 28 assists this season against just 12 turnovers.
*With 14 points at Houston, Stewart vaulted past three predecessors on the MSU career scoring list. He now stands in 12th place with 1,309 points having just passed Timmy Bowers (2001-04), Rich Knarr (1973-76) and Tang Hamilton (1998-01) on the same day.
*With 225 career treys Stewart is closing in on the program record of 258 by Darryl Wilson (1994-96).
*With 127 steals, Stewart is now tied for 8th with Al Perry (1975-78) on the MSU career list.
*Stewart is getting close to top-ten career status in made free throws. He has 290 and needs seven more to tie Jerry Jenkins (1973-75) for 10th place.
*By making one trey at Houston, F Kodi Augustus now has more longballs this half-year (11) than he made all last season. And his 11-of-20 accuracy at the arc is best on the team.
*Still Augustus has been in a scoring slump of late. After a four-game run with double-digit scoring, he has managed just 17 points the last three games on 7-of-17 shooting.
*But Augustus was destroying Houston on the glass Saturday, getting to 16 rebounds in just 20 minutes before sitting most of the fourth quarter. That was a career-high rebound day of course for Augustus, who in the preceding four games had just 14 rebounds.
*And Augustus has been exceptional at the foul stripe, hitting 87.1% this year.
*But he's also been turnover prone with four giveaways at Houston, against no assists. His ratio for the year is 21-to-4.
*Sure, he's only gotten 11 chances. But G/F Phil Turner has only missed one free throw, too.
*Turner has been searching for his outside-touch though. When he made a trey at Houston it snapped a string of 14-straight misses.
*Turner has at least one steal in the last five games.
*With State riding Varnado as long as possible, freshman C Wendell Lewis has played just 15 minutes in the last three games.
*He's seeing limited minutes too, but G Riley Benock is certainly aggressive when he gets on the court. The junior has played 17 minutes the last two games and collected seven fouls. By contrast Benock has yet to attempt a free throw this season.
*Of Benock's nine buckets this year, seven are treys.
*F Romero Osby played 17 minutes in both the St. Bonaventure and DePaul wins. He's played 19 total minutes the last three games.