*Since the split format debuted for the 1992 season, State has won outright or shared seven West titles, most of any Division member. The SEC does not break ties for division titles; both teams are listed as champions.
*Florida defeated Auburn to advance to the second-round matchup. That continued the season-long success of the top four SEC East squads against the West Division, with the record now 26-0 after wins by the Gators and Tennessee on Thursday.
*Mississippi State was 2-4 against the East this year.
*Mississippi State and Florida played back on February 6 in Gainesville, with the Gators taking a 69-62 win to snap a two-year string in the series. Florida leads the all-time score 57-47.
*Friday night, State seniors Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado will add to their career records for most games played. They are at 136 apiece. Though, Varnado has the program record for starts at 114 while Stewart is at 101 tipoffs.
Bulldog SEC Tournament History: Mississippi State has won three conference tournaments, all in the modern era. In 1996 the Bulldogs won three games in New Orleans for their first-ever league tourney title, defeating Auburn, Georgia, and Kentucky. In 2002 in Atlanta, the Bulldogs again needed three wins to take the trophy with wins over Florida, LSU, and Alabama. And last March in Tampa, State pulled off a four-day run with wins over Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, and Tennessee to earn the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
*Mississippi State is 25-46 in all SEC Tournament play, whether the original edition of the event that ran from 1933-52 or the current tournament run since 1979. State has winning records against only three current league members in the tournament; 2-1 against Auburn, 3-2 against LSU, and 1-0 against Ole Miss.
*State is 10-32 against teams now in the SEC's Eastern Division in the tournament.
*State and Florida have met three times in SEC Tournament play already, but this will be the first time they have not played in Atlanta. The Gators took wins in 1995 and 2005 in the Georgia Dome; while the Bulldogs won in 2002 en route to taking the tournament championship.
*The teams have only met in second-round games.
*Mississippi State is 0-4 in SECT games played in Nashville, whether at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym (1984, '91) or at the facility know at the time as the Gaylord Center (2001, '06.) None of these games were against Florida.
*Rick Stansbury 14-9 in SEC Tournaments with championships in 2002 and '09; a finals appearance in 2003; and the semifinals in 1999 and 2008.
Projected Starting Lineups (full-season stats):
FLORIDA: F Chandler Parsons, JR 6-9 218, 11.9ppg, 33 3ptrs, 6.8rpg; F Alex Tyus, JR 6-8 220, 11.8ppg, 6.9rpg; C Vernon Macklin, JR 6-10 240, 10.6ppg, 61%fgs, 5.6rpg; G Kenny Boynton, FR 6-2 183, 13.5ppg, 60 3ptrs, 2.7apg; G Ervin Walker, SO 5-8 171, 12.6ppg, 60 3ptrs, 5.0apg.
Top Reserves: F Dan Werner, SR 6-8 230, 4.6ppg, 3.9rpg; G/F Ray Shipman, SO 6-5 210, 2.7ppg, 1.6rpg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Kodi Augustus, JR 6-8 220, 9.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 32 3ptrs; C Jarvis Varnado, SR 6-9, 13.5ppg, 10.6rpg, 148 blks; G/F Ravern Johnson, JR 6-7 175, 13.5ppg, 3.4rpg, 77 3ptrs; G Barry Stewart, SR 6-3 170, 11.5ppg, 85asts, 67 3ptrs; PG Dee Bost, SO 6-2 170, 12.9ppg, 166 asts, 59 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G/F Phil Turner, JR 6-3 170, 5.5ppg, 4.3rpg; F Romero Osby, SO 6-8 230, 4.5ppg, 2.7rpg; G Riley Benock, JR 6-4 180, 1.6ppg, 14 3ptrs.
HOW THEY COMPARE (SEC Season Stats):
Scoring: MSU 70.9, FLA 71.1
Scoring Defense: MSU 69.9, FLA 69.3
FG Shooting: MSU 40.9%, FLA 44.7%
FG Defense: MSU 40.9%, FLA 44.8%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 31.8%, FLA 32.5%
3-point Attempts: MSU 26.8pg, FLA 17.1pg
Rebounding: MSU 37.9, FLA 35.6
Rebound Margin: MSU -2.5, FLA +2.4
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 68.3%, FLA 71.5%
Turnovers: MSU 12.4, FLA 12.0
BULLDOG NOTES: How reliant are the Bulldogs on perimeter shooting? They are not only tossing up almost 27 treys per-SEC game, but over 45% of the shots they took in SEC season was from beyond the arc.
*Last year's squad averaged ‘only' 23 trey-tries per game in setting a program record for both makes and attempts. They hit 296 in 36 games; this team has already made 284 longballs in 31 games.
*And the Dogs have hit nine or more treys in their last seven SEC games, so there's no reason not to keep heaving from long-range.
*But opponents are getting smarter about scoring inside the paint. After blocking 21 shots combined in the LSU-Alabama games, the Dogs have rejected just 12 balls in the last three games of the regular season. Still with 239 blocks for the year State goes into the SEC tourney #3 in the latest SEC stats in per-game swats, just ahead of #4 Kentucky for the league lead.
*For the season as a whole State's 38.4% field goal defense is 10th best in the NCAA.
*The officials might have an easy Friday evening. State is still second-best in the country in avoiding foul calls at 14.0 per-game…and Florida is #6 at 14.6.
*The Bulldog bench is providing just 14.5% of the team's SEC scoring.
*C Jarvis Varnado roared up to the NCAA career record for blocked shots. But since swatting #536 for the all-time mark in the Alabama game, he has blocked only six balls in the last three games of his final regular season. He has 542 in 136 career games.
*Even with the slower pace Varnado is running away with the SEC lead at 4.8 per game; next-nearest is 3.1. And he is #2 in the nation, a spot he's gotten familiar with the last couple of seasons.
*With 148 blocks this year Varnado needs a long postseason to match his junior season total of 170 in 36 games, when he set the SEC season record.
*He has blocked a shot in 48-straight games now.
*Varnado didn't get to add to his double-double total in the final week of the regular schedule. But he still has 17 DDs for the season and 32 for his career. And his two triple-doubles are half of the program's total.
*The last Dog to average a season double-double was Lawrence Roberts in 2005.
*Varnado has shot well down the stretch, hitting 32-of-49 in the final four games; that's 65%. The last team to hold him under 50% from the floor was…Florida, at 6-of-16.
*He has yet to attempt a three-point shot this season.
*His free-throwing has slipped in the last two weeks though, making 9-of-18 in four games.
*Varnado began his senior season just outside the career top-thirty scorers at State. As the regular season comes to an end he's climbed to #12 with 1,324 points. He needs 1,451 points to catch former teammate Charles Rhodes for #11.
*At 10.6 rebounds Varnado is staying in front of the SEC and is 13th nationally this week.
*With 1,056 career rebounds Varnado is chasing #2 all-time at MSU, that currently belonging to Rickey Brown (1977-80) at 1,092.
*He is the third Bulldog ever with 1,000 rebounds, joining Bailey Howell (1957-59) and Brown as the only other State players with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
*But Varnado is not just the only Bulldog with a double-thousand and 500 career blocks; he's the only known NCAA player to ever reach this statistical plateau.
*Stewart not only is even with his classmate for most career Bulldog games. He has been on-court longer than anyone in program history, the only Dog ever to top 4,000 minutes. He takes tipoff Friday with with 4,271 to his account.
*Having surpassed the MSU record for three-point goals and shots alike, Stewart keeps pushing those marks farther out for future reference. He has made 269 longballs and attempted 749.
*His 1,239 total shots are 8th most in MSU history, too, as he just pipped former teammate Jamont Gordon (2006-08) by one attempt.
*With 1,535 career points Stewart is now 8th on that list, too; coming up on #7 Gordon's 1,558.
*Stewart has made the 8th-most free throws by a Bulldog, 326; and is a career 74% shooter at the stripe.
*He has 157 steals and is now #5 all-time at MSU.
*If the season lasts long enough Stewart could become the 12th Dog with 300 career assists. He has 282.
*Sophomore PG Dee Bost is already there. In fact his 322 scoring passes puts him 10th all-time at State and in only two sesaons.
*Bost has distributed 21 assists in the last three games, and is second-best in the SEC for the season at 5.4 per-game; 31st in the NCAA this week.
*He now has 166 assists this season which is ten better than last winter when he set the program rookie-record. And he already has the 11th-best year ever at MSU, needing two more for a top-ten season.
*Bost has started all 67 of his college games, the only Dog on this roster who has never come off the bench.
*Bost has hit 113 treys in two years, and needs just 11 more to tie for top-ten status.
*Of course G Ravern Johnson is already there. Way up there in fact, with 167 longballs in his three seasons. That ranks him #4 on the MSU career chart already, having just surpassed Tony Watts (166, 1989-92)
*With 77 treys-made this junior season, G Ravern Johnson just needs a few tournament appearances to best his soph-year total of 83. That '09 total was the third-best year ever for a Bulldog bomber.
*But after hitting 11 treys in the previous four games Johnson ended the regular season with just one against Tennessee. And down the stretch he was only 8-of-28 at the arc in the final four games.
*He's still shooting better for the junior year overall at 40.7% than his soph rate of 39.5%
*When Johnson shoots inside the arc against SEC team's he is most productive, making 60% even (42-of-70) on two-point tries.
*Johnson did not shoot a free throw in the last week of the regular season.
*Johnson had 40 assists as a sophomore; he has 17 in 30 games this junior year.
*PF Kodi Augustus is coming on strong at the end of a season, again. He has scored double-digits in four of the last six games, raising his SEC scoring average to 9.4
*In this stretch he is 7-of-13 at the arc.
*But his free-throwing is even more impressive, at 82% for all SEC season and 13-of-15 in the last five contests.
*Augustus has raised his rebound rate from 3.4 as a soph to 5.8 this season.
*And after blocking ten total shots his first two college years, he has swatted 27 this winter.
*After going scoreless in three-straight games, G/F Phil Turner had eight points in the regular season finale.
*But Turner has not attempted a free throw since February 13.