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.
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.
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.
STARKVILLE -- Talk about a case of the Mondays.
After less than two full years, Mississippi State University Athletic Director Greg Byrne is leaving to become athletic director at the University of Arizona, Mississippi State officials said this morning.
STARKVILLE — North Carolina is still North Carolina. After exchanging leads in a pressure-packed NIT contest on Saturday, the North Carolina Tar Heels escaped Humphrey Coliseum by edging the Mississippi State Bulldogs 76-74. Larry Drew made the winning basket for North Carolina with 2.8 seconds remaining with a high-banked kisser off the glass.
STARKVILLE — For two Mississippi State players, Saturday wasn’t the way to end a career. Seniors Barry Stewart and Jarvis Varnado ended their Mississippi State careers in disappointment Saturday as the Bulldogs were edged 76-74 by North Carolina in the second round of the NIT. But as MSU coach Rick Stansbury pointed out, every senior in America has their career come to a disappointing end accept the ones who hoist the NCAA, NIT and CIT championship trophies.
STARKVILLE — Growing up is part of the college experience. From meeting new people, being exposed to different ideas, and acquiring a liberating sense of freedom, attending a college or a university often helps young men and women set the course for the rest of their lives. But imagine going through that maturation process without family members nearby. For the past four years, Rima Kalonda, Armelie Lumanu, and Chanel Mokango have armed themselves with cell phones and hours worth of calling cards and have done their best to share their journey with their family.
Dan Burt and Jeff Osterman know all about the intricacies of recruiting women’s basketball players. But recruiting players in the United States is one thing. Building relationships with players from foreign countries is even more challenging. That’s why Burt, an assistant coach at Duquesne University, and Osterman, associate head coach at the University of South Florida, are ideal men to offer perspective on what it is like to recruit players from foreign lands.
STARKVILLE — Dee Bost is looking forward to Mississippi State’s game against North Carolina in the second round of the NIT. The sophomore point guard, of Concord, N.C., believes he has something to prove when Mississippi State (24-11) hosts North Carolina (17-16) at Humphrey Coliseum at 11 a.m. Saturday. The 6-foot-2 Bost was the Class 3A Player of the Year in North Carolina and he wants to play well against the Tar Heels because of what he perceived to be a lack of attention from North Carolina coach Roy Williams and his staff when he was being recruited.
STARKVILLE — As Mississippi State coach John Cohen sees it, there’s nothing that compares to league play in the Southeastern Conference. Coming off a mid-week rout of Mississippi Valley State, the Bulldogs begin SEC play today at Florida. Cohen is steadfast in his belief that there are no off weekends in the SEC and he’s hopeful last weekend’s games against UCLA, Oklahoma and Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the Whataburger Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas, have given the Bulldogs ample warmup for the three-game series against the Gators.
Rick Insell isn’t coy. He knows his team’s strengths and that his team will try to press opponents on one end and light them up with a 3-point barrage on the other. Oh, senior forward Alysha Clark, the nation’s leading scorer, probably will score a few points, too. Now that everyone knows his team’s strategy for its game at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against seventh-seeded Mississippi State (19-12) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Middle Tennessee State coach won’t change a thing.
Alysha Clark realized early on she wasn’t going to have the size to be a dominant post player. As someone who came to basketball at a relatively late age, Clark also understood she needed to master the “little things” if she was going to have success in the paint. Those realizations and a fierce work ethic have helped make the 5-foot-10 Clark one of the nation’s best players.
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