STARKVILLE — The “experts” have spoken. On Thursday, ESPN.com contributors Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, and Mechelle Voepel turned in their predictions for the Sweet 16 pairings in the women’s NCAA tournament.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State baseball team’s goal this weekend against the University of Georgia will be to guard against the letdown. Georgia (8-13, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) is at the bottom of the league standings and is in the middle of a six-game losing streak after falling Wednesday to Furman.
M.C. Miller’s move Harrison Central High School in Lyman will come with challenges. For a program that has had one winning season since 2004-05, the Red Rebels have been known as the school with the state’s largest enrollment but mediocre football team.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State baseball team has a thing for the comeback. For the ninth time this season, MSU overcame a deficit for a victory, this time rallying from a four-run deficit to beat the University of Memphis 7-6 on Wednesday night.
PITTSBURGH — Sharon Fanning-Otis said all of the right things Tuesday night. Faced with the emotion of a stirring 87-67 victory against Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Petersen Events Center, Fanning-Otis stuck to a script she has repeated this season like a Broadway performer.
Wow. That was the reaction many people had Nov. 22, 2009, when the Mississippi State women’s basketball team rolled past the University of Maryland 84-55 at Humphrey Coliseum.
PITTSBURGH — Connected toughness has never been sweeter. The seventh-seeded Mississippi State women’s basketball team delivered a 40-minute dose of the catch-phrase that has come to be the key to its success on Tuesday night to earn a historic victory. Alexis Rack scored 30 points to lead four players in double figures and help MSU secure its first trip to the Sweet 16 with an 87-67 victory against second-seeded Ohio State in a second-round NCAA tournament game at the Petersen Events Center.
PITTSBURGH — Debbie Antonelli has known Sharon Fanning-Otis for a long time. The veteran college basketball analyst developed a friendship with Fanning, as she was then known, in 1988 when she was the women’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. Through the years, Antonelli has worked as an analyst on numerous games in which Fanning-Otis has coached. She couldn’t have been any prouder Tuesday night as she watched seventh-seeded Mississippi State defeat second-seeded Ohio State 87-67 in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Petersen Events Center.
PITTSBURGH — The Ohio State women’s basketball players didn’t know what hit them. On paper, the second-seeded Lady Buckeyes had all of the statistical advantages entering their game Tuesday night against seventh-seeded Mississippi State in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Petersen Events Center. But Ohio State’s accuracy from 3-point range (nation-best 39.5 percent), the dominance of three-time Big Ten Conference Player of the Year Jantel Lavender, and the steadiness of sophomore point guard Samantha Prahalis were lost in a wave of MSU momentum.
To East Mississippi Community College baseball coach Tony Montgomery, a .350 batting average and .400 on-base percentage are ideal numbers for the second hitter in the batting order. But Montgomery is getting much more production this season than that from sophomore right fielder Alex Lummus in the second slot. Lummus, a 2008 graduate of Oak Hill Academy in West Point, is the Lions’ second-leading hitter with a .443 batting average and he leads the team with a .495 on-base percentage going into a doubleheader with Itawamba Community College today.
The Starkville High School baseball team didn’t need many hits to win its Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A, Dvision 2, District 4 opener. Starkville just needed a few timely connections and some help from the Columbus Falcons on Tuesday night. Starkville managed just three hits in the district opener for both teams, but it was more than enough for a 7-1 win.
Mississippi State University Athletic Director Greg Byrne, who announced Monday he’ll be leaving the school for University of Arizona, will be on board in Starkville until late April as MSU begins a search for his replacement.
PITTSBURGH — The NCAA tournament brings out the best in everyone. For the second consecutive game, Mississippi State senior center Chanel Mokango will have the opportunity to match up against one of the best post players in the nation. More than two days after defending Middle Tennessee State’s Alysha Clark, the nation’s leading scorer, Mokango likely will match up in the post against junior center Jantel Lavender when seventh-seeded MSU (20-12) takes on second-seeded Ohio State (31-4) at 6:11 tonight (ESPN2) in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Petersen Events Center.
PITTSBURGH — This time, the Mississippi State women’s basketball team wants to finish the deal. A year ago, 11th-seeded MSU led third-seeded Ohio State 58-54 with 6 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in their second-round NCAA tournament game in Columbus, Ohio. Unfortunately, the Lady Buckeyes shut out the Lady Bulldogs the rest of the way en route to a 64-58 victory.
STARKVILLE — Talented, yet young and inexperienced last season, the Mississippi State defense will have things simplified this year. Under new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and defensive line coach/co-defensive coordinator Chris Wilson, reads will be simplified with an attack first mentality.
STARKVILLE — Greg Byrne’s impact as athletic director Mississippi State has visible reminders around campus and could have lasting effects in the future. Typically two-year periods don’t produce the type of innovation and change that Byrne initiated before leaving behind his athletics renovation to become athlatic director at the University of Arizona, but he did just that with notable coaching hires and facility upgrades.
STARKVILLE — R.J. Johnson’s tremendous baseball talent has been evident since the first day he suited up for the Starkville Yellow Jackets. He’s just now starting to put all the pieces together. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shortstop/pitcher has ideal measurables that have drawn the attention of pro scouts, but it’s been his discipline at the plate that’s seen him get off to a blazing start for Starkville (5-1).
PITTSBURGH — The look said Mississippi State wasn’t going to be denied. It started in Alexis Rack’s eyes after the senior guard made a 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 3 seconds to play. Before she knew it, the look became infectious, and just in the nick of time.
PITTSBURGH — Chanel Mokango is probably tired of hearing the word toughness. For two years, Mississippi State women’s basketball coaches have begged, prodded and pleaded with Mokango to play like the dominant post player they believed she could be. On Sunday, Mokango delivered the toughest effort of her MSU career.
STARKVILLE — Often unnoticed through last year’s edge-of-your-seat Mississippi State football season, the Bulldogs offensive line became the team’s most cohesive unit. The same is expected this season, though the main beneficiary of the offensive unit’s drastic improvement last year, Anthony Dixon, will be earning an NFL paycheck instead of setting more team records. Dixon rushed for 1,391 yards and ranked among the nation’s best in yards per game and total rushing yards last season. The Bulldogs rushed for 2,731 yards as a team, which ranked 13th in the nation.
1. Columbus High moving to fill coaching vacancies HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. New Hope standout Johnson signs with East Tennessee State COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Excitement abounds as Starkville HIgh is set to name Woods new coach HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. MSU men's basketball adds four-star prospect Holman COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Shaw picks up pace in Limited Late Model race LOCAL SPORTS