In December, the University of South Alabama men’s basketball team achieved one of its most notable wins in school history.
STARKVILLE — Ravern Johnson’s evolution into an all-around player is starting to catch up to his frame and measurables, which is right on time for the Mississippi State men’s basketball team.
Coming off a loss to the University of Arkansas and preparing for the nation’s No. 4-ranked team on one day’s rest and preparation is challenging enough. But University of Mississippi men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy could have a bigger issue the rest of the season.
When Anthony Grant and Billy Donovan take the court Thursday night, it will complete one of the greater coaching circles in the Southeastern Conference.
STARKVILLE — The final 8 minutes, 2 seconds were Victoria Dunlap’s time to shine. With Mississippi State within one point and in position to steal the momentum back, Dunlap made sure she did her part — and then some — to push the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team to victory. Dunlap had team highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds Sunday afternoon to lead Kentucky to a 69-59 victory before a crowd of 1,385 at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Losing streaks and poor shooting were the main topics of conversation prior to Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Western Division matchup here between the Mississippi State and LSU men's basketball teams. More than any other phase of the game, a woeful shooting percentage has proven to be the culprit for MSU’s recent mini-slump, which resulted in a pair of setbacks after a promising 3-0 start in SEC play. In losses at Alabama and at Arkansas in the past week, MSU connected on just 41 of 130 (31.5 percent) shots and was 7 of 44 (15.9 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
STARKVILLE —The fleeting nature of momentum makes Southeastern Conference women’s basketball exciting. Mississippi State’s game against Kentucky at 2 p.m. today at Humphrey Coliseum is an ideal example. MSU (14-7, 5-3 SEC) and Kentucky (17-3, 5-2) would love a few days or an overmatched opponent as their next scheduled game so they could savor the victories they earned Thursday against ranked opponents (No. 9 Georgia, No. 18 LSU).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Kaleb Eulls became a hero in his hometown last year. Mississippi State could be ready to give Eulls a hero’s welcome in three weeks.
STARKVILLE — Alexis Rack tells it like it is. The Mississippi State senior guard doesn’t mind direct questions because she will be very honest with her feelings about her play and the team’s performance.
Bianca Thomas wants the basketball in her hands, even if it is against a professional. Thomas’ confidence that she can deliver for the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team stems in part from the work she does daily in practice against former Rebel and current WNBA standout Armintie Price.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State athletic officials are investigating an alleged incident involving football recruits during the first official weekend of visits. It has been reported that a small number of recruits may have visited an adult establishment in Clay County. MSU football team spokesman Joe Galbraith released a statement Tuesday afternoon concerning the incident.
2. MSU women move to 22-2 by routing Vanderbilt COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Bulldogs fight for results COLLEGE SPORTS
4. New Hope girls soccer hosts second-round playoff match Saturday HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Caledonia soccer heads to Corinth for second-round of playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS