Bulldogs continue early SEC homestand by hosting Florida

By Staff
From staff reports
Jan. 10, 2001
STARKVILLE The Mississippi State Bulldogs continue their SEC season-opening, two-game homestand by playing host to the seventh-ranked Florida Gators tonight on the MSU campus.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum, and the game will be televised on a tape-delay basis by the Sunshine Network with a playback air time slated for 10 p.m.
Winners of the their last six contests, including Saturday's league-opening 87-73 home win over Arkansas, coach Rick Stansbury's 9-2 Bulldogs are beginning Southeastern Conference play with two straight homes games for the first time since the 1983-84 campaign.
Tonight, against Florida, the Bulldogs will be bidding for the team's first 2-0 start in league competition since their 1996 Final Four season. The Dogs will also be trying to become the first MSU squad to record consecutive victories over ranked opponents since that same Final Four club of five seasons ago.
Two weeks ago in Tucson, Ariz., MSU claimed a 75-74 triumph over then-10th ranked Arizona in the championship game of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic handing the Wildcats their first loss ever in the Fiesta Bowl classic.
With only 4.2 points separating their top six leading scorers on the season, the Bulldogs are currently being led in scoring by senior guard Antonio Jackson (12.8 ppg), who also tops the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in assists (3.9 apg).
Rounding out MSU's double-figure season scorers are team rebounding leader Robert Jackson (12.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Tang Hamilton (12.2 ppg) and Marckell Patterson (11.0 ppg).
As a team, the Bulldogs continue to pace the SEC in rebounding (46.8 rpg) and rebounding margin (+13.1 rpg; 4th in the NCAA), while having out-rebounded nine of their 11 opponents by nine boards or more.
MSU is also currently ranked 22nd nationally in field-goal percentage defense (38.7 percent).
Florida, guided by fifth-year head coach Billy Donovan, is the reigning national runner-up.
The No. 7 Gators sport a 10-2 record this season after dropping a last-second 69-68 decision to the South Carolina Gamecocks in their SEC season opener Sunday in Columbia, S.C.. Leading the nation in scoring margin (+26.5 ppg) and ranked fifth nationally in scoring offense (91.3 ppg), UF features five double-digit scorers, though senior forward Brent Wright (15.9 ppg &7.1 rpg) is expected to miss 3-6 weeks after having surgery to correct a stress fracture in his right foot Jan. 4.
Currently pacing the potent Gator scoring attack is junior center Udonis Haslem with team-leading averages of 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds an outing, followed by junior guard Teddy Dupay (14.1 ppg) and sophomores Matt Bonner (13.2 ppg) and Brett Nelson (11.6 ppg).
The Bulldogs will begin SEC road competition Saturday in Tuscaloosa when they take on the14th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, marking their third outing against nationally ranked opposition in the last four games. Tip-off at Bama's Coleman Coliseum is set for 5 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised live on FOX Sports Net South.