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Updated: Monday, November 25, 2002 6:13 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL PREVIEW
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Mcneese St (0-0) at No. 23 Mississippi St (0-1)
MCNEESE ST. COWBOYS
McNeese St. Cowboys
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MISSISSIPPI ST. BULLDOGS
Mississippi St. Bulldogs
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STARKVILLE, Mississippi (Ticker) -- No. 23 Mississippi State attempts to bounce back from a tough loss in its season opener when it welcomes McNeese State to Humphrey Coliseum on Monday in a rematch of an NCAA Tournament game from last season.

Mississippi State (0-1) lost its opener to Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, 79-76. Timmy Bowers scored 22 points and Derrick Zimmerman added 18 for the Bulldogs.

Junior center Mario Austin was held out by Mississippi State again. The NCAA indicated that it erroneously made Austin eligible as a freshman and may suspend him for the season. Austin averaged 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs last year.

Mississippi State is playing the second game of a six-game homestand that may jeopardize its chances of gaining an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Coach Rick Stansbury's schedule features visits by Jacksonville, Alabama A&M and Jackson State.

The Bulldogs posted a 70-58 victory over McNeese State in the first round last season behind 25 points from Austin. Damond Williams had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Cowboys.

McNeese State (0-0) won the Southland Conference a year ago and had a 14-game winning streak snapped in the loss to Mississippi State. Williams and Jason Coleman, who averaged 14.4 points last season, are back.

The Bulldogs lead the series, 3-1.


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