Mississippi State’s basketball team plays Game No. 2 of the 2010-11 season at 7 tonight. Appalachian State (2-0) comes calling, and quite frankly, it could exit with a win.
This is no pushover non-conference game, especially for a short-handed State squad that wasn’t overly impressive last week against a bad Tennessee State team. The Mountaineers bring in a prolific offense led by senior guard Donald Sims, who led the Southern League in scoring last season (20.4 ppg), making 42.7 percent of his 3-pointers and 95.1 percent of his free throws. He was named the SoCon player of the year.
In an 89-86 win over Tulsa, Sims scored 18 points; in a 101-71 win over Montreat, he tallied 21. The big scorer early has actually been 6-foot-5 forward Omar Carter, a junior college transfer who dropped 35 and 20 points in the first two games.
Appalachian State is without 6-10, 285-pound center Ike Butts (8.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg), who had knee surgery in August but is expected to return soon. So a team that was good at rebounding last season (plus-7.8 per game, first in the league) might struggle there for a while.
The Mountaineers are under the direction of first-year coach Jason Capel – yeah, that one. He likes his team, noting its size: Its roster shows 10 players 6-5 or taller. “That gives us opportunities to do some different things,” Capel said in the Blue Ribbon Yearbook preview.
Appy State went 24-13 last season (13-5 SoCon, first place) and lost in the CIT semifinals.
And for what it’s worth, Appalachian State’s current RPI is 15, while MSU’s is 232.