STARKVILLE, Miss. - Looking to get back on the winning track after a pair of setbacks last week, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State (14-7, 5-2) close out the first half of their conference slate by playing host to the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-9, 2-5) Wednesday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the non-televised contest is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.
Having secured a winning first half of league play for the first time since 2004-05, coach Rick Stansbury’s 14-7 Bulldogs enter the week tied with
With Mississippi State continuing to rank second nationally as a team in both field-goal percentage defense (.363) behind Georgetown and blocked shots (8.67 bpg) behind Connecticut, junior all-America candidate Jamont Gordon ranks fifth among the SEC’s individual scoring leaders at 17.9 points per game in addition to rating fifth in assists (4.3 apg). Coming off back-to-back double-doubles this past week against Arkansas and Tennessee, senior all-SEC forward Charles Rhodes stands 16th in the conference in scoring (14.7 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (7.4 rpg). On the heels of his 21-point effort (6-of-8 treys) against the Vols, sophomore Barry Stewart adds 12.2 points an outing.
Sporting a 10-year head coaching mark of 199-111 and owning an 11-9 career record against the Crimson Tide, State’s Stansbury needs one victory to become the 20th all-time member of the SEC’s 200-win club. Additionally, sophomore Jarvis Varnado, the nation’s top shot-blocker (4.90 bpg), needs four more rejects to break Erick Dampier’s all-time, single-season school standard of 106 blocks set during MSU’s 1995-96 Final Four campaign.
Guided by 10th-year head coach and former Alabama standout guard Mark Gottfried, Alabama is 13-9 overall and 2-5 in league action after claiming an 81-72 home win over LSU this past Saturday. The Tide’s other SEC triumph thus far on the year came at home against rival Auburn, 97-77, on Jan. 26. With both of its league wins having come since losing at home to MSU, 66-56, last month,