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.
There is shared optimism about the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. Members of the Southeastern Conference and national media picked MSU to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference this season and selected senior guard Alexis Rack as a member of the All-SEC preseason first team on Tuesday.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow share a special bond. What began as a relationship between a quarterback and his position coach has become a valued friendship.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, said it will be “an extreme honor” to step onto the same field as University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
When David Dale signed a scholarship to play football at Millsaps College, Pat Byrd thought it was a good choice. Time has proven the Amory High School coach to be right about his former player.
STARKVILLE — It has made for interesting talk around the football locker room at Mississippi State. There has been a running debate among the Bulldogs about which state, Mississippi or Florida, has the better high school talent.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury likes his team better now than he did at this time last year. With the return of five starters from a team that reached the NCAA tournament for the second season in a row, Stansbury is more comfortable this preseason.
FULTON — Former Starkville High School quarterback Brad Henderson wondered when he would get another chance to start for the East Mississippi Community College football team. After getting the nod in the first game of the season against Copiah-Lincoln C.C., Henderson spent the next six games backing up sophomore Randall Mackey. Mackey hurt a knee and an ankle last week in a victory against Northeast Mississippi C.C., so Henderson knew the chances were pretty good he would get another opportunity.
FULTON — Former Starkville High School running back Pat Shed is never satisfied. The East Mississippi Community College sophomore was the leading rusher Saturday with 83 yards on 16 carries in the Lions’ 28-6 victory against Itawamba C.C. The effort helped Shed increase his season totals to 590 yards on 102 carries, but he believes there’s room for improvement.
FULTON — The East Mississippi Community College football team has nothing to hide concerning eligibility issues surrounding punt returner and backup wide receiver British Footman. As far as the Lions are concerned, questions about Footman never were an issue. “Not for us,” EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said. “We understood the rules, and if there ever was a question, I promise you we would never risk a season to play one kid.” Footman played Saturday for the Lions in a 28-6 victory against Itawamba C.C.
Louisiana Tech University announced the addition of former Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Richard Williams to its men’s basketball staff. Williams will be the director of basketball administration and program coordinator on a volunteer basis at Louisiana Tech. He served as the director of basketball operations at UAB in 2008. During his tenure (1986-98) at MSU, Williams helped coach the Bulldogs to the NCAA Final Four in 1996 and he was chosen Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year twice. Williams is the second-winningest coach in MSU history with a mark of 191-163.
STARKVILLE — The football programs at Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State have had their share of adversity. MSU coach Dan Mullen suspended sophomore quarterback Chris Relf for last Saturday’s game against Houston due to an unspecified violation of team policy. As of Thursday, Relf’s availability for the teams’ game at 11:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPNU) in Murfreesboro, Tenn., remained uncertain.
C.J. Foster is delivering on his promise. Months before the start of his sophomore season at Itawamba Community College, Foster said he knew it wasn’t “play time anymore,” and that he was focused on making an impact at linebacker. Foster went on to say he was going to “clock in and clock out” and go to work every day to help the Indians have a successful season. Even though ICC (2-5) has struggled to put everything together this year, Foster has been a stalwart on defense. The former West Point High School standout is fourth on the team with 39 total tackles and second on the team with six tackles for loss.
STARKVILLE — It’s time for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team to face its expectations. The anticipation for the 2009-10 season has been building at Mississippi State since March when the Lady Bulldogs ended a 23-10 season with a loss to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The NCAA tournament appearance was the program’s first since the 2002-03 season, and its 23 victories were the third most in a season.
Alvin Ellis was accustomed to running over and past defenders in high school. While he spent some time playing free safety, Ellis spent the most of his career at Columbus High School as a running back who used his speed to give opponents fits.
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