November 28, 2008

Washington State Preview

The Mississippi State Bulldogs begin the championship rounds of the Legends Classic today squaring off against Washington State at 4:40 p.m. from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

The Bulldogs are on a roll starting the season at 5-0. MSU did not trail at all during their first four contests and are coming off their first road win of the year with a 76-71 victory over St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.

The Legends Classic is the 70th in-season tournament the Bulldogs have participated in going back to 1955. During that span, State has sported an 84-68 record in tournaments including 17 titles. Their last tournament crown came in 2000 winning the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz.

Today will mark the first ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Washington State. Mississippi State does however hold a 5-8 record against Pac-10 opponents. The Cougars are the only Pac-10 foe MSU has not played. The Bulldogs last Pac-10 opponent came in March with a 76-69 victory over Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

State enters this afternoon's contest averaging 83.4 points per game while shooting 49.5-percent from the floor. The Bulldogs are outrebounding their opponents by 10.2 this season and are shooting 41.9-percent from behind the arc and 70.8-percent from the free throw line.

Reigning National Defensive Player of the Year Jarvis Varnado is averaging nearly a triple-double per game this season. The junior center is posting 12 points, 12.8 rebounds and 7.8 blocks a contest.

Sophomore forward Kodi Augustus is averaging 7.2 points and six rebounds per game filling in for the injured Brian Johnson.

Sophomore swingman Ravern Johnson leads the Bulldogs with 12.4 points per game while junior guard Barry Stewart is putting up 12.2 points a contest. Freshman point guard Dee Bost is averaging 8.4 points and 5.8 assists per game.

Mississippi State's top reserves are freshman forward Romero Osby (8.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and freshman guard Twany Beckham (six ppg, 2.5 apg).

The Cougars and head coach Tony Bennett come into this afternoon's game also with unblemished record at 4-0. Washington State is coming off a 67-41 win over Canisius on Tuesday and today will mark their first road game of the season.

The Cougars are averaging 68.5 points per game this season and surrender just 38.5 to their opponents. Washington State is shooting 46.3-percent from the floor as well as 37.3-percent from downtown. They are converting 719-percent from the charity stripe.

The Cougars play with three guards on the court in their starting rotation led by freshman Klay Thompson (6-6, 187) with 12.3 points per game. Senior Taylor Rochestie (6-1, 186) puts up 11.5 points a game while junior Nikola Koprivica (6-6, 211) scores on average of seven per contest.

Washington State's big mean consist of a pair of seniors. Aron Baynes[db] (6-10, 270) holds down the center spot averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while [db]Daven Harmeling (6-7, 225) starts at forward putting up 8.5 points and 2.5 boards this season.

Senior forward Caleb Forrest (6-8, 228) leads the Cougars off the bench with 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds followed by freshman guard Abe Lodwick (6-7, 196) with 2.8 points.

Mississippi State will either face No. 4 ranked Pittsburgh or Texas Tech in the finals or consolation game on Saturday.

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