*Mississippi State and North Carolina have only played four times, with the Tarheels winning them all. Three of those meetings were in the 1920s in the old Southern Conference tournaments played in Atlanta. In 1965 the teams met in the Virginia Tech Invitational with UNC taking a 84-80 decision.
*SEC teams have won five NITs. Kentucky owns two titles (1946, '76) and South Carolina consecutive titles in 2005 and '06. Vanderbilt won it all in 1990.
*The SEC has had an entrant in the NIT every year since 1992. The last time league teams met each other in the NIT was in 1998 when Georgia beat Vanderbilt. In 1996 South Carolina beat Alabama and lost to Vanderbilt; and in 1990 Vanderbilt beat Tennessee.
*This is North Carolina's sixth NIT appearance, the first since 2003. Only once has a SEC team played North Carolina in the NIT; that was in 1973 when Alabama lost to the Tarheels.
*State is 30-40 against 11 of the 12 schools currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference, though many of the games came against Georgia Tech (13-16 record) when the Yellow Jackets were part of the SEC. The lone current ACC member State has never played is Boston College. MSU has a winning record against Duke (2-1), Maryland (3-0), North Carolina State (1-0), and Virginia (2-1).
* Seniors Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado will add to their career records for most games played. They are at 140 apiece. Though, Varnado has the program record for starts at 118 while Stewart is at 105 tipoffs.
Bulldog NIT History: This is Mississippi State's seventh appearance in the NIT, all since 1979. Including this week's opening-round win Bulldog teams are now 7-6 in the event. They have never played any opponent twice in the NIT.
*State has played eight NIT games in Humphrey Coliseum, with a 6-2 record.
*State's deepest NIT run was three years ago when the 2007 Bulldogs won three home games to advance to the semifinals in New York, where they fell on a last-shot to West Virginia 63-62. The 2001 squad went 2-1 to make the quarters where they also fell on a final shot, to Tulsa 77-75.
*MSU is 1-0 against the ACC in NIT play, having beaten Florida State in the 2007 event.
*Rick Stansbury has taken four teams to the NIT; 1999, 2001, 2007, and 2010. He owns a 6-3 record in this tournament, and is 10-9 in all his post-season games counting six NCAA appearances.
*Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado came off the bench in all four NIT games as 2007 freshmen. Stewart scored 36 points in his four games, with a 13-point showing against Bradley in the second round; and was 12-of-30 shooting with 7-of-21 work at the three-point arc. Varnado scored 24 points with 20 rebounds, and blocked six shots.
*The most points scored by a Bulldog in a NIT is 28 by forward Cameron Burns in 1990 against Baylor. That game also saw the second-best performance as guard Tony Watts scored 23. In both 1979 (Wiley Peck vs. Alcorn State) and '94 (Darryl Wilson vs. Kansas State) Dogs scored 22 points. And Tuesday night's 21 points by Jarvis Varnado against Jackson State matched the 21 of former teammate Charles Rhodes against Mississippi Valley State in 2007.
Projected Starting Lineups (full-season stats):
NORTH CAROLINA: F John Henson, FR 6-10 195, 5.3ppg, 4.2rpg, 52blks; F Will Graves, JR 6-6 240, 9.3ppg, 4.7rpg, 61 3ptrs; F Deon Thompson, SR 6-9 245, 13.8ppg, 6.3ppg; G Marcus Ginyard, SR 6-5 210, 8.2ppg, 4.7rpg. 2.9apg; G Larry Drew, SO 6-2 180, 8.4ppg, 6.0apg, 34 3ptrs.
Top Reserves: F Travis Zeller, SO 7-0 240, 9.6ppg, 4.7rpg; G Dexter Strickland, FR 6-3 180, 5.4ppg, 1.5rpg.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Kodi Augustus, JR 6-8 220, 9.1ppg, 5.5rpg, 35 3ptrs; C Jarvis Varnado, SR 6-9, 13.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 166 blks; G/F Ravern Johnson, JR 6-7 175, 13.2ppg, 3.4rpg, 83 3ptrs; G Barry Stewart, SR 6-3 170, 11.6ppg, 94asts, 75 3ptrs; PG Dee Bost, SO 6-2 170, 13.0ppg, 184 asts, 67 3ptrs.
Top Backups: G/F Phil Turner, JR 6-3 170, 5.5ppg, 4.2rpg; F Romero Osby, SO 6-8 230, 4.4ppg, 2.6rpg; G Riley Benock, JR 6-4 180, 1.7ppg, 17 3ptrs.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 72.8, NC 75.3
Scoring Defense: MSU 64.6, NC 72.3
FG Shooting: MSU 43.5%, NC 44.5%
FG Defense: MSU 38.6%, NC 41.4%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 35.8%, NC 33.6%
3-point Attempts: MSU 25.4, NC 14.2
Rebounding: MSU 39.3, NC 41.8
Rebound Margin: MSU +2.3, NC +5.5
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 68.5%, NC 65.8%
Turnovers: MSU 12.8, NC 15.3
BULLDOG NOTES: No reason to change their regular season gameplan in the post-season. Mississippi State continues tossing up three-pointers at the same pace with 45% of all their shots taken from beyond the arc. The Dogs averaged almost 27 trey-tries per SEC game.
*Thus this team has surpassed last year's program records for both made threes (now at 318) and attempts (889). The previous MSU marks were 296 and 812 in 36 games. In fact the SEC record for attempts (917 by Arkansas 1995) is only one really big game away, though the same team's makes mark of 361 would require State reaching the NIT finals.
*In their three SEC Tournament games, the Bulldogs were 26-of-69 at the arc, shooting 20 points better than for the season as a whole!
*Going into the post-season, Mississippi State was #6 in the NCAA in treys-made per-game at 9.1.
*Last year Mississippi State set the SEC standard for blocks in a season at 271. Well, this team is only five-shy of the program's own record at 266, in one fewer game. State can lead the league in blocks per-game for a third-straight season.
*For the season as a whole State's 38.6% field goal defense is 2nd-best in the SEC, but 12th-best in the whole NCAA.
*Frustrating officiating in Nashville aside, these Bulldogs still are 3rd-best in the NCAA this week in avoiding fouls calls at 14.2 per game.
*In SEC season the Bulldog bench contributed only 14% of the points. In their four tournament games the rate is up a bit, to 18%.
*Right after breaking the NCAA career record for blocked shots, C Jarvis Varnado had just six swats in the next three games. But he's picked up the pace with 18 in the last four games, giving him 560 for his four seasons.
*And with 166 blocks in 35 games this senior year Varnado is an average game away from breaking the MSU-SEC records he set last winter with 170 in 36 games.
*This week he still ranks 2nd in the NCAA in blocks-per-game.
*Varnado has blocked a shot in 52-straight games.
*The SEC Defensive Player of the Year award has only been given out seven times. Varnado has won it three times, the only repeat winner much less three-peater.
*Varnado went five games without getting to ten rebounds, but against Jackson State he grabbed 11 boards. It was the 18th double-double of the senior season and 33rd of his career. And his two triple-doubles are half the program's entire total.
*He is still leading the SEC, and is 17th nationally, in rebounds average but just 0.2 ahead of Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins.
*Varnado won All-Tournament honors in Nashville by shooting 18-of-27, 67% for his three games. That's a bit better than the 65% pace he set down the stretch of the regular season, and he has been better than 50% in his last 12 games.
*So going into the week he and Kentucky's Patrick Patterson were tied for the SEC shooting lead at 58.4% each.
*He has yet to attempt a three-point shot this season.
*His nine free throws against JSU were a season-high.
*With 1,389 points in four years Varnado now stands 13th on the Bulldog career list. He needs 1,451 points to catch former teammate Charles Rhodes for #12, and 1,491 for top-ten status.
*Varnado needs only three more rebounds though to tie Rickey Brown (1977-80) for second on the career rebounds list 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.
*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 may be tied with his classmate for most career games, but the guard has been on-court longer than any Bulldog ever. He takes tipoff Saturday with 4,395 minutes to his credit.
*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 277 longballs and attempted 772.
*His 1,276 total shots are 7th most in MSU history, too.
*Stewart has made at least one longball in every game of 2010; having been shut out on December 31 at San Diego.
*With 1,584 career points Stewart is now 7th on that list, having just passed former teammate Jamont Gordon.
*Stewart's 10 rebounds against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament tied his career record.
*Stewart has made the 6th-most free throws by a Bulldog, 339; and is a career 74% shooter at the stripe.
*He is 13-of-15 at the stripe in the last four games.
*He has 161 steals and is now tied with Timmy Bowers (2001-04) for 4th place at MSU.
*If the season lasts long enough Stewart could become the 12th Dog with 300 career assists. He has 291.
*Sophomore PG Dee Bost is already there. In fact his 340 scoring passes puts him 9th all-time at State and in only two seasons.
*Bost has distributed 39 assists in the last seven games, and is second-best in the SEC for the season at 5.2 per-game; 34st in the NCAA this week.
*He now has 184 assists this season. And he already has the 8th-best year ever at MSU.
*Bost has started all 71 of his college games, the only Dog on this roster who has never come off the bench.
*Bost has hit 121 treys in two years, and needs just three more Saturday to tie for top-ten status.
*He has hit two treys in five-straight games.
*It's been hot or cold at the arc lately for G Ravern Johnson. He was 2-of-4 against Florida in Nashville, then 0-of-2 against Vanderbilt; 2-of-4 against Kentucky in the tourney finals, and 0-of-5 against Jackson State. So, he's due to be on again in NIT round-two.
*But he's still #24 in the NCAA in three-point shooting for the season at 40.9%, and 4th-best in the SEC. That's a better average than last year's 39.5%.
*In the four games since the regular season ended, Johnson is 10-of-15 inside the arc, 67%. That's better than his SEC-season average of 60% even.
*State would like to have the junior at the stripe more often. He's hit all his last eight attempts…but that is spread over nine games.
*Johnson has matched his soph-season total for treys at 83; which is also the third-best season ever by a Bulldog. Only Darryl Wilson produced more threeballs, 97 and 94 in his senior and junior seasons.
*With 173 threes for his three seasons Johnson is already fourth on the career list, and he's closing in on #3 Bowers at 197.
*Johnson had 40 assists as a sophomore; he has 22 in 34 games this junior year.
*PF Kodi Augustus did not hit a threeball in five tries at the SEC Tourney, but stuck three-of-six such tries against Jackson State.
*Augustus was a 82% free throw shooter for SEC season but has gotten to the line just three times (two good) in four post-season games.
*Augustus has raised his rebound rate from 3.4 as a soph to 5.5 this season.
*And after blocking ten total shots his first two college years, he has swatted 31 this winter.
*G/F Phil Turner has hit the boards hard lately with 15 rebounds in the last three games.
*And after going eight games without attempting a free throw, Turner has made four in six trips the last three games.
*He's turned into a good distributor lately, too, with seven assists the last three games.
*G Riley Benock had 15 points in all the regular SEC season. In four post-season games he has 11 points.
*Of his 57 shots, 50 have been from beyond the arc.
*F Romero Osby has 16 points in four tournament games, with four treys in five tries.