STARKVILLE — Too long. Too deep. Too good. Those factors were just some of the reasons why Sunday turned out to be an easier afternoon than expected for the No. 4 University of Tennessee women’s basketball team. Angie Bjorklund and Glory Johnson tied for team-high scoring honors with 16 points, and Tennessee used a smothering half-court defense that set the tone in a 75-48 victory against Mississippi State before a crowd of 5,787 at Humphrey Coliseum.
OXFORD -- It was a day when a sophomore point guard grew up. After Dee Bost only had 13 points and five assists for Mississippi State in a 55-52 loss at Western Kentucky this past Monday, coach Rick Stansbury had a heart-to-heart talk with him. Stansbury knew his sophomore point guard was capable of having a better game. On Saturday against Ole Miss, Bost did just that. Bost responded in Mississippi State’s first Southeastern Conference game of the season and out-played Ole Miss junior point guard Chris Warren to lead the Bulldogs to an 80-75 victory in front of 9,360 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Friday was an eventful day in the eligibility case of Mississippi State freshman basketball player Renardo Sidney, who hopes to still get a chance to play for the Bulldogs sometime this season. After Sidney’s attorney Donald Jackson came out with criticism of the MSU athletic department with the way it’s handled the investigation of his client to this point, the NCAA Eligibility Center sent out a notification of “statement of facts” in the case. The NCAA has been investigating Sidney’s status as an amateur athlete since he signed with Mississippi State on April 30, 2009, and everyone connected with the case believes the release of “statement of facts” was a positive move. The “statement of facts” spells out findings from the six-month investigation to indicate if there are any violations with Sidney.
History will be made today at Humphrey Coliseum. For the first time in her coaching career, Pat Summitt will bring a senior-less University of Tennessee women’s basketball team to Starkville. Mississippi State hopes it will be able to make a different kind of history when it takes on No. 4 Tennessee (13-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) at 1 p.m. today (SEC Network). The Lady Bulldogs (11-4, 2-0) are the only team in the SEC that hasn’t defeated the Lady Volunteers. Eight-time NCAA champion Tennessee leads the all-time series 30-0.
OXFORD -- Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy was crying foul Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t because he was upset with the officiating during the Rebels’ 80-75 loss to Mississippi State, but it was more directed to his team. The Bulldogs made more free throws (22) than Ole Miss attempted (13) and Kennedy was concerned that MSU had 33 attempts.
Being stuck in the house on a brutally cold weekend can be boring or have you wrapped up in “honey-do’s.”. Now is the perfect time to pull out all your fishing rods and do some maintenance. Take the reel off of each rod and inspect the rods for problems. One of the main problems with rods is the “eyes” or guides will get bent. Straightening a rod guide is simple and should be done carefully so that you don’t break one off.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State has answered ESPN’s call. When the sports television network expressed an interest in showcasing one of its football games on Thursday night, Mississippi State was willing to accommodate. MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne announced Thursday that the Southeastern Conference opener against Auburn has been moved to Sept. 9. It will be the 14th time the Bulldogs have played in ESPN’s Thursday Night game, but the first since 2007.
Barry Stewart’s defensive skills will be put to the test Saturday. The Mississippi State senior guard will have to switch from guarding the talented University of Mississippi duo of sophomore Terrico White and junior Chris Warren. While Stewart plays his usual off-guard spot, he’ll have to defend White. When he’s asked to spell sophomore Dee Bost at point guard, Stewart will have to deal with Warren. That’s the challenge Stewart will face when the Bulldogs travel to Oxford to play their Southeastern Conference rival at 12:30 p.m. (WCBI).
STARKVILLE — Melanie Balcomb crowed about the Mississippi State women’s basketball team at Southeastern Conference Media Day. The Vanderbilt coach knew MSU was tough after losing in Starkville last season, and she realized the Lady Bulldogs were going to be even tougher this season with four starters returning. “It blew my mind,” Balcomb said when told media members picked MSU to finish fifth in the league. “I haven’t seen a coaches poll, but that is the first thing I looked at and said, ‘How can you pick Mississippi State fifth?’ To me that is totally out of line.”
University of Alabama men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant will find out how at 4 p.m. Saturday (FOX SportsNet South) how his fast-paced style of play will work in the Southeastern Conference when his team opens the league part of its schedule at Louisiana State University. Grant knows Alabama (10-4) is still learning his system, but he likes the progress. “In every game, we learn a little bit more about what it takes to be successful,” Grant said. “We have eight healthy guys now that we’re going with, so with every game I think we’ve had to adjust and make some changes. I think our guys have responded well.”
University of Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan has watched his sport’s tradition grow in the Southeastern Conference the past 20-25 years. He understands the league still has the reputation as being a football league first, but he believes basketball is catching up. Donovan thinks the SEC’s 15-year television agreement with CBS Sports and ESPN can help strengthen that standing. With only Mississippi State, Tennessee, LSU reaching the NCAA tournament last season, Donovan said the lack of exposure is the main reason.
Mary Kathryn Govero didn’t set out Sunday to deliver the production of two players. But with senior guard/forward Tysheka Grimes not able to play Sunday against Auburn, Govero knew she had to do something to help the Mississippi State women’s basketball team in its Southeastern Conference opener.
STARKVILLE — Renardo Sidney remains a topic of conversation. Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury said Wednesday not much has changed about the status of the freshman forward.
GRENADA –– Justin Frye scored 19 points Wednesday to lead three players in double figures and help propel the Heritage Academy boys basketball team past West Memphis Christian 66-47 in the Kirk Academy Invitational Tournament.
The Pickens County High School boys basketball team will attempt to keep a good thing going Friday and Saturday at the Pickens County Tournament at Gordo High. The Tornadoes will take the court in pursuit of their fourth-consecutive championship and ninth in coach Russ Wallace’s 13-year tenure.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team will have to find a way to get along without Tysheka Grimes for a little longer. MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said Tuesday that Grimes (foot injury) won’t play at home against No. 17 Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. Thursday (CSS) or against No. 4 Tennessee at 1 p.m. Sunday (SEC Network) in Starkville. Grimes injured her foot Friday in practice. Fanning-Otis said Grimes will be re-evaluated Monday, and the hope is she will be back sooner than later.
Madison Ford had a right to be tired. Playing on back-to-back nights after returning from a bout with mononucleosis can be considered too much to ask for any basketball player. That’s what Ford has done for the Heritage Academy girls team. The senior was strong, especially down the stretch against Starkville Academy, as the Lady Patriots rallied for a 44-41 victory against the Lady Volunteers. After scoring 29 points in a 58-45 loss to Oak Hill Academy on Monday night, Ford scored 17 points against Starkville Academy.
The evening started and ended with exclamation marks for the Columbus High School boys basketball team. The good news is senior center Bobby Wrench was in the middle of the action. Wrench opened Tuesday night with a dunk and finished it with another flush en route to a 23-point effort in Columbus High’s 75-69 victory against Noxubee County.
Everything has increased this season for Kala Williams. It’s not that Williams didn’t play an important role for the Starkville High School girls basketball team last season, it’s just that things are magnified when you’re a senior. But Williams is handling the added responsibility just fine. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 19 points a game and is second on the team in rebounding (six per game). She is coming off a three-game stretch last week at the Hattiesburg Classic in which she averaged 20.7 points. She had 24 points in a victory against Brookhaven and 25 points in a victory against Oak Grove.