Dec. 28, 2001
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University will have one of its toughest challenges of the year on Saturday, hosting Mississippi State in men's basketball action at the New Orleans Arena at 2 p.m.
Tulane owns an impressive 8-1 mark entering the game, it matches the second-best start (after nine games) by the Green Wave since World War II. However, the Bulldogs come to New Orleans with a 12-1 mark. It is the fastest start for Mississippi State since the 1961-62 season.
Tickets will be available at the New Orleans Arena box office prior to the game.
"Mississippi State will be the most athletic team we have faced so far," Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. "Austin [6-9 sophomore center Mario Austin] is a major load down low. We will have to do an unbelievable job with post defense. We have a tough task at hand to find a way to win."
The Wave upended Georgia Tech on the road last Sunday, 79-69. Junior Brandon Brown (Houma, La.) turned in the best game of his career, scoring a career-high 27 points and matching his all-time best with 14 rebounds. Brown was 10-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-3 from three-point range. He is now shooting 65.9 percent from the field.
"I can't say enough about Brandon Brown and the monster game he had, shooting threes, rebounding the basketball, posting up, what a fantastic game," Finney said. "Not only did he play well, everybody on our team contributed."
Brown leads the Wave with 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. However, three other Tulane players also average in double figures. Junior Nick Sinville (Shreveport, La.) has 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while the backcourt tandem of Waitari Marsh and Brandon Spann average 14.0 and 13.6 points per game, respectively. Marsh has 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, while Spann has 3.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per outing while hitting a team-high 15 three-pointers.
The Bulldogs won two of three games at the Las Vegas Classic last week. They suffered their lone loss of the year to Cincinnati, 90-56, Wins came against Richmond and Illinois-Chicago. Austin averages 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The leading scorer for Mississippi State is 6-5 forward Marckell Patterson with 15.0 points per contest.
MSU is shooting over 50 percent from the field, while also connecting on 37 percent of its three-point attempts. The Wave also hits over 50 percent of its field-goal attempts, and leads Conference USA with its three-point field goal defense, holding foes to just 26.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Following Saturday's game, Tulane will travel to Louisville to battle the University of Kentucky at Freedom Hall. The Wildcats play one game per year in Louisville to accommodate their state-wide fan base. Finney was an assistant coach at Kentucky for three years, helping the 1998 Wildcats to the NCAA Championship.