STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball players and coaches say their focus is between the white lines. The program has received a lot of attention in the preseason for things that have happened outside those lines. The Bulldogs learned Thursday they are ranked in the top 20 of both preseason polls (18th by The Associated Press, 19th by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches).
University of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks knows sophomore Ronnie Sneed can play linebacker. He just didn’t know he’d have to ask him to prove it this quickly. With the potential of not having senior All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Micah Johnson available at 6 p.m. Saturday for his team’s game against Mississippi State (Fox SportsNet South), Brooks might turn to Sneed.
STARKVILLE — David Turner has benefited from relationships established during his coaching career. One of those relationships helped him earn his first NCAA Division I job as a defensive ends coach at Kentucky in 1993. The bonds continue to help him as the defensive line coach at Mississippi State. Turner will return to Lexington, Ky., at 6 p.m. Saturday when Mississippi State plays at the Kentucky Wildcats (FOX SportsNet South).
During spring football drills, University of West Alabama sophomore Ricky Bell was moved from wide receiver to free safety. Bell has adjusted to the change and has found a home in the secondary at the school in Livingston, Ala. Bell, a 2008 graduate of Aberdeen High School, has earned a starting position after making the switch.
STARKVILLE — Johnthan Banks had two teeth removed last week ago, one for each of the interceptions he returned for touchdowns Saturday night in a 29-19 loss to the University of Florida.
STARKVILLE — Junior guard Phil Turner has a reason to feel like one of the elder statesmen of the Mississippi State basketball team. Turner, who turns 22 today, is considered one of the veterans on the 2009-10 squad.
Mark White and Sharon Thompson have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The East Mississippi Community College men’s and women’s basketball coaches will share that optimism at 6 p.m. Wednesday when they play host to “EMCC Madness” at the Keyes T. Currie Coliseum in Scooba. Admission is free.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Marneshia Richard did everything she could last year to help the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. She cheered, she encouraged, she offered advice, and she provided leadership. Richard did all that as she watched ... and watched ... and watched.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen enjoyed watching freshman defensive back Johnthan Banks return two interceptions for touchdowns against the University of Florida Saturday night. But Mullen didn’t like seeing Florida’s Dustin Doe return an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Mississippi State’s 29-19 loss at Scott Field. Mullen said Doe’s touchdown should have never been allowed to stand.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — University of Mississippi men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy has a nice problem. He has to find places for guards Terrico White, Chris Warren, Eniel Polynice, and Trevor Gaskins to play this season. Kennedy didn’t have that dilemma last year when Warren, Polynice, and Gaskins all went down with knee injuries and White was the only point guard left.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The tempo is about to be turned up a notch on the basketball court in Tuscaloosa, Ala. With Anthony Grant as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Alabama, the team will play a different style from past years. Grant developed a reputation for an up-tempo style of play in three seasons as coach at Virginia Commonwealth. He plans to use the same approach at Alabama, but he knows there will be a transition.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State freshman safety Johnthan Banks wasn’t going to be intimidated Saturday night by the University of Florida. Even though the Bulldogs lost a 29-19 decision to the No. 2 Gators, Banks showed he belonged on the field. The former East Webster High School standout intercepted senior quarterback Tim Tebow twice and returned both for touchdowns. He returned the first one 100 yards with 27 seconds remaining in the second quarter to pull MSU (3-5, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) within 13-10 at halftime.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen asked for it and he got it Saturday night. Mullen wanted fans to fill Davis Wade Stadium and make it a tough environment when No. 2 University of Florida came to town. The largest crowd in MSU history of 57,178 looked on as the Bulldogs lost to the Gators 29-19.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury preaches defending and rebounding to his team. But he has yet to run a shot-blocking drill in practice. Stansbury discovered early Jarvis Varnado didn’t need it. He already had that skill.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Two things excite Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive about the upcoming basketball season.
STARKVILLE –– Anthony Dixon doesn’t shy away from a challenge. That’s just what Mississippi State’s new all-time leading rusher will get against the University of Florida. Something will have to give at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) when one of the nation’s top defenses takes on one of the country’s top rushing attacks. Dixon expects a “grind it out game,” and that’s the type he likes.
SCOOBA — The No. 7 East Mississippi Community College football team extended its MACJC North Division winning streak to 15 on Thursday by beating Mississippi Delta 28-10 at Sullivan-Windham Field. With its top-rated offense not clicking on all cylinders in the regular-season finale, EMCC (8-1) got a huge special teams boost from freshman wide receiver British Footman, who had 215 return yards on two kickoff returns and a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. Entering the contest ranked first nationally with an average of 513.9 yards of total offense per game, EMCC failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy said going against the University of Florida will be different for him. When Hevesy left Florida to join Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State he knew it meant one day having to see the players he helped recruit at Florida. That’s something he has never experienced. MSU plays host to Florida at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) and Hevesy admits it will be a little strange.
University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer can tell when his players, assistant coaches and support staff are feeling the pressure. When a program has won two out of the last three national championships and has been highly ranked over that span, it’s only natural to have an overwhelming desire to hold on to that standing. That’s the challenge No. 2 Florida (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has once again as the Gators travel to play Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
Quartney Cox and Avis Shelton are inseparable. The two offensive linemen have been side by side during their football careers at West Point High School and East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. They are even roommates at EMCC. “Everyone thinks we follow each other around,” Shelton said. With Scooba only being a 40-minute drive from West Point, Shelton and Cox have been able to enjoy their junior college careers and stay close to home.
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