STARKVILLE — The push is on to make the NCAA tournament. For the first 37 minutes Thursday night, the Mississippi State women’s basketball team looked like a team that was connected, alert, and focused on realizing that goal. More importantly, MSU played with the aggressiveness and the attacking mind-set it will need to get there. Alexis Rack had a game-high 34 points as MSU played one of its best first halves of the season en route to a 74-66 victory against No. 9 Georgia before a crowd of 1,071 at Humphrey Coliseum.
The optimism is palpable. A nationally ranked recruiting class has second-year Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen anxious to start practice this afternoon, weather permitting. But Cohen knows that he, his coaches, and MSU fans might have to temper their optimism at times this season because even though the Bulldogs have added a talented group of newcomers, many of those players, particularly the pitchers, are freshmen.
Don’t underestimate the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science boys soccer team. If you do, you could find yourself sitting on the sidelines and watching the Blue Wave advance in the North Half State playoffs. MSMS (6-1) took the first step on its postseason journey Tuesday with a 2-1 victory against Forest in the opening round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A/2A/3A North Half State tournament. The victory pushed MSMS into a second-round game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Corinth.
VERNON, Ala. –– The Lamar County Bulldogs opened up some breathing room in the fourth quarter Thursday night to beat Marion County 78-73. Lamar County outscored Marion County 21-17 in the fourth quarter after leading 36-34 at halftime and 57-56 at the end of the third period. The leading scorers for Lamar County were Marquis Plant with 23 points, Will Franks with 20, Jimmy Lann 17 and Michael Bradford 10.
STARKVILLE — Rick Stansbury hasn’t spent a lot of time mulling over the history that could be made tonight. In fact, the Mississippi State men’s basketball coach didn’t know about one mark that could be eclipsed and another that could be reached at 8 tonight (ESPN2) when MSU takes on Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena.
The NCAA’s investigation into the eligibility of Mississippi State freshman forward Renardo Sidney could be nearing an end. On Wednesday, MSU received a revised and final statement of facts about the Sidney case from the NCAA’s Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee. The committee met Monday to review the NCAA’s first statement of facts, MSU’s response to the statement, and the NCAA’s reply to MSU.
HAMILTON — Dylan Earnest wants an opportunity to play baseball at the highest level in college. Living in Northeast Mississippi, Earnest is fortunate to have an asset like the Itawamba Community College baseball program. The Indians won the state title last season and have finished among the nation’s top five in the last two NJCAA polls.
HAMILTON — Latedrick Troupe has earned the reputation for being a playmaker. Most of the highlights the Hamilton High School senior has delivered have come on offense or on special teams. Troupe hopes to change that in the fall and make some noise on defense.
COLUMBUS — Will Goodwin scored two goals in the second half Wednesday to lift the Starkville Academy boys soccer team to a 4-1 victory against Heritage Academy.
STARKVILLE — Rick Stansbury knew depth was going to be an issue this season. The Mississippi State men’s basketball coach entered the season without backup point guard Twany Beckham and with the status of prized freshman Shaun Smith uncertain due to injury. On top of that, the Bulldogs have had to deal with a nine-game suspension to center John Riek, who was recovering from knee surgery in 2008, an NCAA investigation into freshman forward Renardo Sidney that has kept him out of uniform, and nagging injuries to Elgin Bailey that have prevented him from being a contributor.
LSU coach Trent Johnson can attest to it. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is a believer in it, too. Nineteen games into the season, it looks like the University of Alabama men’s basketball team has bought into coach Anthony Grant’s defensive mind-set. The Crimson Tide showcased their stinginess Saturday, holding No. 23 Mississippi State to 31.7 percent shooting from the field in a 62-57 victory at Coleman Coliseum.
Dale Hughes is accustomed to being a leader on the basketball court as a sophomore. He was put into that role as one of three sophomore starters at New Hope High School. He’s in that role again as a sophomore at Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard views himself as a leader of a young team that includes five freshmen and three sophomores. There’s just one senior and three juniors.
A one-goal lead is the most dangerous advantage a team can have. The worst fear for coaches is the cushion can lead to a false sense of security and give the opposing team momentum to rally. The New Hope High School boys soccer team nearly made that adage come true Tuesday night. The Trojans used a penalty kick by Tanner Ryals late in the second half to tie Callaway, only to see the Chargers score the game-winner minutes later to steal a 2-1 victory in their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A first-round North Half State playoff game at Trojan Field.
The New Hope High School boys soccer team wants to keep its historic season going. To do that, the Trojans will have to protect their home field at 5:30 p.m. today when they play host to Callaway in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North Half State playoffs.
Some players have a knack for making a difference on one end of the field. Whether it is with blazing speed or a deft touch, forwards and midfielders can wreak havoc on defenses. But defenders who have those skills often don’t attract the same accolades. Their satisfaction comes from the final zero on the scoreboard.
STARKVILLE — The time to find solutions is running out. Two-game losing streaks in January don’t ruin a season’s worth of work. But when your ultimate goal is to get back to the NCAA tournament, losing skids at this time of the season can be devastating. The Mississippi State women’s basketball team is in danger of allowing back-to-back losses to become something greater. The Lady Bulldogs (12-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) will try to prevent that from happening at 2 p.m. today when they play at Vanderbilt (14-5, 3-3).
STARKVILLE — All the Starkville High School basketball teams need is energy and a little patience. The boys and girls teams showed Friday just how important intensity and effort will be to the rest of their seasons in two drastically different results. In the boys game, the Yellow Jackets had revenge as their motivation, and they didn’t disappoint. Rashad Perkins scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Gavin Ware added 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Starkville past Tupelo 69-54.
GORDO, Ala. –– Nick Stewart made six 3-point field goals and scored 24 points Saturday to lead the Pickens County Tornadoes past Gordo 69-59 in the championship game of the Pickens County Tournament. The win was the 12th in a row for Pickens County (18-1). Also scoring in double figures for Pickens County was Deion Curry with 17 points.
STARKVILLE — Maybe this one will start a trend. The quality of play on display Saturday in the Starkville High-Starkville Academy boys soccer match at the Starkville Sportsplex certainly deserves a second chance. The fans and players are entitled to another meeting next season based solely on the result: a 2-2 tie that should help both teams prepare for the postseason.
OXFORD — Digging and clawing are two reasons the Ole Miss and Mississippi State women’s basketball teams are going in opposite directions. On one end, Shantell Black and Kayla Melson attacked the rim with purpose and Nikki Byrd wouldn’t be denied on the backboards. On the other, MSU continued to start and stop, sputtering between turnovers and missed opportunities with a cautiousness not welcome in the Southeastern Conference.
1. Ole Miss gearing up for improved LSU COLLEGE SPORTS
2. No. 1 MSU begins preparations for Kentucky COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Ole Miss will rely on defense COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Alabama shines with looser mind-set COLLEGE SPORTS
5. MSU's Alwal hopes new habits will pay dividends COLLEGE SPORTS