Bulldogs and Tigers both looking for answers
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Jan. 24, 2001
LSU head coach John Brady is tired of hearing questions about his team's current woes. If the Mississippi State Bulldogs have their way, he'll have to keep hearing them.
The Bulldogs may have questions to answer of their own as they attempt to break out of their current Southeastern Conference slide when the Tigers (10-5, 0-4 in SEC) hit Starkville tonight at 7 p.m.
The SEC's leading scorer in Ronald Dupree, who averages 18.6 points per game, leads LSU. If that's not enough, Dupree is also a force to be reckoned with on the boards, pulling down 9.8 a game, as well.
But Dupree and his fellow Tiger starters also lead the league in minutes played. No LSU starter played less than 35 minutes in Sunday's 68-63 loss at Georgia with two bench players putting in less than 18 minutes between them.
This is a factor that could bode well for MSU (10-5, 1-3), which is looking to salve some still-open wounds from Saturday afternoon's tough five-point loss at Tennessee, that saw the Bulldogs rally from 19 points down to pull to within a bucket at 27.8 seconds remaining on an Antonio Jackson 3-pointer.
To make things worse for LSU, leading reserve Robert Royal, also a wide receiver on the football team, missed practice Monday with a foot injury, but is expected to make the trip to Starkville.
Jackson is averaging 13.6 points per game and Tang Hamilton puts in 12.7 to lead the Bulldogs in scoring on the season. Jackson enters the week needing three more three-point field goals to become the seventh Bulldog player to reach the century mark for career treys.
Standing 19th all-time on MSU's scoring chart with 1,121 career points, Hamilton needs 24 points to climb three more notches to 16th place.
Ranked second in the SEC with eight double-doubles on the year, junior Robert Jackson rates third among the league's leading rebounders (9.1) in addition to averaging 12.6 points per outing. In a long-standing rivalry against the Tigers that dates back to MSU's first season of basketball competition, the Bulldogs have prevailed in 12 of the last 14 meetings spanning back to the 1993-94 season. Mississippi State also owns a current streak of seven consecutive home wins over the Tigers.
In other MSU news, College Sports Southeast has canceled its plans to televise Sunday's game between the Lady Tigers and Sharon Fanning's Lady Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.
Houston at Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles, fresh off a big 69-60 win over the Louisville Cardinals, conclude their three-game homestand when the Houston Cougars visit Green Coliseum at 7 p.m. tonight. This Conference USA contest is pivotal for USM, as with a win, they could break out of a tie with Memphis (4-1) in the National Division.
The Cougars, (4-12, 1-3 in CUSA) comes to Hattiesburg off a 72-68 loss to those Tigers. Houston is giving up 70.0 points a game and scoring at the rate of 65.2. But the Cougar defense has limited opponents to 41 percent shooting shooting.
George Williams is tops among three Cougars who average double figures. He's at 13.9 points a game, while teammates Dominic Smith and Chad Hendrick average 13.4 and 10.3, respectively. The Cougars also rebound the ball well. They average 38.7 rebounds a game while holding opponents to 34.6.
Senior guard David Wall continues to lead the Eagles at 15.8 points a game, while senior center Vandarel Jones has used back-to-back double-doubles to move into the number two spot in scoring at 11.6 points a game.
Southern Miss picked up its win over the Cougars in 1997, and the Golden Eagles have won seven of the last eight, including a pair last season, 82-76 in Hattiesburg and 67-65 at Houston.
USM guard Mel Cauthen has had his share of success against Houston, being a vital cog in the dramatic two-point win at Hofheinz Pavillion.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.