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No. 19 Ole Miss invades Starkville; USM on the road

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Jan. 27, 2001
The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the 19th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels will again wage war when the Rebs' return to Starkville for a noon tipoff today.
The marquee Jefferson Pilot game will spotlight a hot Rebel squad versus a Bulldog team still trying to find itself. MSU (10-6, 1-4) has now dropped four straight league games for the first time since 1992-93, with Wednesday's 82-73 loss to LSU. Ole Miss has done will on television this season, winning eight of its 11 appearances.
Despite their troubles this season, Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs still have the odds on their side. MSU leads 121-99 overall, including an 80-23 series lead in games played in Starkville, and have won the six of the last seven meetings in Humphrey Coliseum. The last Ole Miss victory in Starkville was an 82-78 win in the 1997-98 campaign. Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes is 1-3 versus the Bulldogs and 0-2 against MSU in Humphrey Coliseum.
Last season, the Bulldogs swept Ole Miss, winning 61-59 in Oxford and 80-67 in Starkville.
Senior guard Antonio Jackson leads four Bulldogs in double figures with a 13.9 average. Robert Jackson (12.8 ppg), Tang Hamilton (12.8 ppg) and Marckell Patterson (10.0 ppg) are other tough scoring threats.
Robert Jackson is the squad's top rebounder with an 8.8 average (tied for third in the SEC). Hamilton, who is averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 boards per contest in the Bulldogs' last four games, is tops on the team with a 55.2 shooting percentage from the field.
Patterson is the team's top outside threat, shooting 43.6 percent from the arc. The Bulldogs are hitting 45.6 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from the three-point line, and 67.9 percent from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 9.2 boards per game (43.6-34.4), which is tops in the SEC, Ole Miss meanwhile, is next-to-last in that category.
For the Rebels, senior Rahim Lockhart (10.6 ppg, 6.4 rbs) continues to be a defensive force underneath the basket.
Southern Miss at UNC-Charlotte: It's now back to the road for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (15-3, 4-1 in Conference USA) after a cozy three-game homestand. USM makes the trek up to the Queen City in North Carolina to face off against the UNC-Charlotte 49ers at 6:30 p.m. tonight.
UNCC (10-8, 2-4 in CUSA) has dominated the Eagles in the series, winning 21-of-25, including the last seven. USM has won once at home and once at Charlotte in the history of the series. The other two Golden Eagle victories came in conference tournament games.
In last year's lone meeting between the two, the 49ers ran away with a 66-52 decision in Hattiesburg. Though shooting only 40 percent from the floor, Charlotte put four players in double figures. Jobey Thomas led the way with 19 points. USM was paced by Vandarel Jones' 13 points.
USM enters the game off a 72-58 decision over the Houston Cougars, while Charlotte was drilled 81-61 at UAB.
Freshman Rodney White leads the 49ers in scoring at 19.9 points a game, but he was injured in a recent game at South Florida and has missed the four games since then. Teammate Damon Brown is the scoring leader (in total points) on the squad with 282 total points and a 15.7 points per game average. Jobey Thomas is the only other 49er in double figures at 12.8 points a game.
David Wall, who missed two games and played reduced minutes in two more, started the UH tilt and led the Golden Eagles with 18 points in 29 minutes. He continues to lead the Eagles in scoring at 15.9 points a game. Teammates Vandarel Jones and Elvin Mims also are scoring in double figures at 11.3 and 10.5 points a game, respectively.
Against Houston Wednesday, 13 players saw action and 12 of them scored.
The Golden Eagle defense continues to make opponents suffer. USM is now limiting opponents to a fourth-best-in-the-nation 58.9 points a game, outrebounding opponents 37.0-to-33.2 and holding opposing shooters to just 39.4 percent from the field.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Email him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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