March 6, 2010

Tennessee Preview

The last time Mississippi State faced Tennessee on the hardwood the SEC Tournament Championship was on the line. The Bulldogs were able to claim a 64-61 victory and earn the right to go dancing last March.

The two teams meet again today at 5 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum with similar circumstances on the line for MSU. A Bulldog win would give them an SEC West Championship and likely secure a spot NCAA Tournament.

But the task will not be an easy one. The Volunteers have been dominant against State of late winning five of the last six meetings including their last two trips to Starkville. Tennessee also holds a commanding advantage in the overall series 74-39.

The Bulldogs will also have to deal with the emotions of senior night as guard Barry Stewart and center Jarvis Varnado suit up for what could possibly be their final appearance at the Hump.

The two Tennessee natives have had record setting careers at Mississippi State with Varnado leaving as the NCAA's all-time leading shot blocker and started a school record 113 games. Stewart owns the MSU record for career 3-pointers, attempts and minutes played. The duo share the school record for career games played.

The Bulldogs enter the game with a 21-9 overall record and a 9-6 mark in conference following Wednesday night's 89-80 loss to Auburn on the road snapping a three-game winning streak.

MSU is shooting 43.7-percent from the floor and averaging 73.2 points per game. The Bulldogs are third in the SEC knocking down 36.2-percent from the outside making a league-best 9.17 treys an outing. They also continue to top the Southeastern Conference in most defensive categories including scoring defense (64.1), field goal percentage defense (38%), blocked shots (7.77), defensive rebounds (29.03) and defensive rebounding percentage (70.1%).

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