Aggies and Bulldogs tangle in Big Apple

The 19th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies figure to be tested tonight by the Mississippi State Bulldogs, as the teams collide as part of the 2K Sports Classic at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.

The Aggies have participated in an in-season tournament in each of the last four seasons and have compiled a 12-3 record over that span. Members of the Big 12 Conference, they have opened this new season with back-to-back blowout wins over weak opponents. Most recently, Texas A&M cruised past Southern University on Sunday by an 83-58 final.

As for Mississippi State, it has already played three games, winning two by double figures. The lone setback was a 68-58 loss to Akron, one that was particularly disappointing because it took place on the Bulldogs' home court. Long-time coach Rick Stansbury was able to lead his team back to the win column last Saturday, as the Aggies cruised past South Alabama by an 80-65 final.

Texas A&M and Mississippi State have split their only two previous meetings, and these teams will soon be conference rivals as the Aggies are jumping ship to join the SEC.

Looking at Sunday's romp over Southern, Mississippi State played quite well at the offensive end of the court, connecting on 56.6 percent of its field goal attempts. The Aggies earned an 18-9 edge in points from the foul line and finished with a commanding 44-21 rebounding edge, including 12-2 on the offensive glass. Ray Turner scored 20 points in that affair, while Kourtney Roberson pitched in 12 points off the bench. David Loubeau and Elston Turner both contributed 11 points for A&M in the triumph. In the season-opening win over Liberty, Turner poured in 20 points, so he has clearly been a consistent scoring threat early on. The Aggies shot 65 percent from the field in that affair, and their efficiency has been impressive.

Taking a look at Mississippi State's 15-point win over South Alabama last time out, forward Arnett Moultrie was downright dominant as he poured in 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field while ripping down 13 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Dee Bost scored 16 points in the triumph, while Rodney Hood (15 points) and Brian Bryant (10 points) added balance to the lineup. The Bulldogs only turned the ball over six times in the affair and finished with advantages in both points from the foul line (16-9) and rebounding (41-33). Through three games, Bost paces the Bulldogs with 17.3 ppg, while the 6-11 Moultrie is close behind with 16.3 ppg to go along with 12.7 rpg. MSU is outrebounding opponents by nearly 10 boards per contest, and the big guy in the middle is the reason.