Mississippi State returns to Tupelo’s BancorpSouth Arena for the first time in a decade taking on Southeastern Louisiana tonight at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are 3-0 all-time in the BCS Arena with their last win coming 77-59 over New Orleans on Dec. 16, 2003. MSU’s three wins in Tupelo have come by an average margin of 22 points.
The Bulldogs have played at least one “home” game away from Humphrey Coliseum in 14 of the last 16 years and are 15-0 in those outings. State has made 10 appearances in Jackson, three in Tupelo and two in Southaven over that span. The Bulldogs downed Central Arkansas 79-72 last year in the Mississippi Coliseum in the state capital.
Mississippi State is 17-1 all-time against the Lions. The Bulldogs claimed the last meeting 82-67 in Starkville on Nov. 19, 2009 behind 20 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks from Jarvis Varnado. Southeastern Louisiana’s lone victory in the series came 57-46 on Nov. 25, 2005 in Starkville.
MSU is 50-4 against teams from the Southland Conference.
The Bulldogs are 5-2 on the year after beginning last season just 2-5. State is coming off a 71-61 setback to TCU on Dec. 5 as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The loss to the Horned Frogs snapped a seven-game home winning streak in Starkville.
Rick Ray’s roster is shooting 45.8-percent from the field and averaging 70.7 points per game. The Bulldogs are hitting 29.5-percent from 3-point range and 62.4-percent from the free throw line. Mississippi State has outrebounded its opponents by 1.6 this year allowing 65.9 points on 44-percent shooting.
Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword continues to lead the Bulldogs with 14.3 points per game. Sword has scored 20-plus points in back-to-back games. He only eclipsed that total twice all of last season.
Sword is joined in the backcourt by sophomore wing Fred Thomas averaging 7.7 points while junior point guard Trivante Bloodman is adding 5.4 points and 2.7 assists.
Sophomore center Gavin Ware is putting up 11.3 points and pulling down 9.1 rebounds and senior forward Colin Borchert is chipping in 9.3 points and 2.9 boards.
Southeastern Louisiana is 3-5 on the year coming off a 74-73 home setback to Southeast Missouri on Saturday. The Lions are 0-3 against teams from the Southeastern Conference this season falling to Missouri (89-53), LSU (89-66) and Arkansas (111-65).
In his ninth season in Hammond, Jim Yarbrough’s squad is shooting 41.8-percent from the floor and scoring 68.9 points per game. SELU is knocking down 33.5-percent of its shots from the outside and 66-percent from the charity stripe. The Lions opposition is averaging 75.8 points on 48-percent shooting.
Junior guard JaMichael Hawkins (6-4, 185), of Jackson, leads Southeastern Louisiana with 11.4 points. Hawkins is accompanied in the backcourt by senior Dre Evans (5-9, 170) adding 6.1 points and Argentinean junior Julian Chiera (6-5, 195) contributing 4.6 points.
Senior forward Antonnio Benton (6-7, 190), of Hattiesburg, is scoring 9.5 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds and junior center Devonte Upson (6-9, 205) is averaging 9.4 points and 6.5 boards.
Tonight’s game will not be televised but can be heard on the MSU Basketball Radio Network.