Dallas, TX – The sixth-ranked Baylor Bears and the 15th- anticipated non-conference showdown.
MSU has won its last 11 games to move to 12-1 on the season, and the lone loss came to Akron back in early November. The Bulldogs were most recently in action last Thursday when they knocked off Northwestern State as expected by an 82-67 final. They have played three neutral-site affairs to date and all three have resulted in wins.
Baylor is one of six undefeated teams left in the nation, and the 12-0 start matches the best in program history previously accomplished by the 2000-01 team. Obviously, this current group of Bears are aware that the record can be theirs alone with a win tonight. The club was pushed to the limit by West Virginia last Friday, but managed to escape with an 83-81 victory in overtime.
Mississippi State has won all five of its previous meetings with Baylor, but the programs haven't squared off since 1990.
Dee Bost was widely considered one of the top guards in the SEC last season, so the fact that he is averaging 17.2 ppg and more than four assists per contest for Mississippi State through the first 13 games of this year comes as no surprise. Teammate Arnette Moultrie has exceeded expectations, however, as he is pouring in 17.8 ppg on 57.5 percent shooting from the field while ranking among the national leaders with 11.7 rpg. Rodney Hood adds 12.4 ppg to the mix, and Renardo Sidney provides 10.2 ppg. MSU is generating 77.2 ppg while allowing 63.7 ppg to opponents on 40.9 percent field goal efficiency. In the 15-point victory over Northwestern State last time out, Mississippi State earned a 45-35 rebounding advantage and a 16-8 edge in points from the foul line. Moultrie posted 24 points and 14 boards in that affair, overshadowing the fact that Bost was held to eight points on just 3-of-14 shooting.
Outstanding offensive balance and strong team defense have been the most obvious keys to Baylor's impressive start. There are five double-digit scorers in the fold for the Bears, who are generating 79.6 ppg on 50.2 percent field goal efficiency, while allowing 59.3 ppg to opponents on 36.5 percent shooting. Perry Jones III leads the pack with 14.1 ppg to go along with 6.9 rpg, and Quincy Acy checks in with 12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 2.5 bpg. Pierre Jackson (12.0 ppg, 4.3 apg), Brady Heslip (10.8 ppg) and Quincy Miller (10.8 ppg) round out the group. Heslip came through with 19 points against West Virginia last week, while Jackson led the squad with a 23-point effort off the bench. Acy netted 15 points for BU, which simply hit one more shot from the field than WVU in overtime.