Dawn Staley knows her team.
Vic Schaefer is concerned.
ATHENS, Ga. -- In a matchup of two very good defensive teams, Georgia's was just a little bit better than Mississippi State's to pull off the upset victory.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State has been close.
STARKVILLE -- It doesn't matter where you look, the Mississippi State women's basketball team has climbed into the upper level of Division I. MSU is ranked No. 10 in The Associated Press and the USA Today national polls. It is all alone in second place in the Southeastern Conference, which is regarded as one of the nation's best leagues every season. The Bulldogs also are fifth in the country in turnovers forced (24.2 points per game) and third in Division I with a +9.6 turnover margin. Those statistical categories typically are ones MSU fourth-year head coach Vic Schaefer highlights after every game. To date, MSU has earned a lot of circles on the final stat sheets for all of the good things it has accomplished in building a 17-2 record and a 4-1 mark in the SEC.
Columbus High School first-year boys basketball coach Luther Riley expected some early season adversity. He also hoped his team would be clicking on a high level when the calendar turned to February. If Tuesday night was any indication, the Falcons might be on their way. Columbus scored the game's first 15 points and cruised to a 70-45 victory against West Point at the Falcon Lair.
OXFORD -- Michael Carrera is one of the South Carolina men's basketball team's best players, adept at scoring from 3-point range or in the paint. The senior might make a pretty good coach someday, too. No. 24 South Carolina rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to force overtime and beat Ole Miss 77-74 on Tuesday night. It was the 6-foot-5 Carrera who made several crucial plays down the stretch, including the game-tying layup in regulation and the basket that put the Gamecocks ahead for good in overtime.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida men's basketball coach Mike White has his first winning streak in Southeastern Conference play. He and the Gators received a little help from Mississippi State down the stretch. Dorian Finney-Smith had 20 points and 13 rebounds for his third straight double-double, KeVaughn Allen added 19 points and Florida beat Mississippi State 81-78 Tuesday night.
AUBURN, Ala. -- Cinmeon Bowers muscled his way to rebounds and baskets, with a splash of outside shooting to get him going. Kareem Canty fired up shots from long range on a gimpy right ankle. The combination was enough to propel the Auburn men's basketball team to its second-straight big win, 83-77 against Alabama on Tuesday night.
STARKVILLE -- Breanna Richardson didn't hesitate. It didn't matter that the Mississippi State women's basketball team was leading Ole Miss by 28 points with less than five minutes remaining. It also didn't enter Richardson's mind she was seeing her first action after a hard fall to the floor against Auburn forced her to miss two games.
STARKVILLE -- The swagger is back. When Morgan William burst onto the Division I scene last season, she did it with a flair that dared defenses to stop her. She backed up that confidence with a lightning-quick first step and nifty ballhandling that helped her score in double figures in seven of her first nine games with the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
STARKVILLE -- Ben Howland expected Quinndary Weatherspoon to play a big role as a freshman for the Mississippi State men's basketball team. Howland raved about the former Velma Jackson High School standout and believed he was going to make his biggest impact at guard.
STARKVILLE -- Crowds for Ole Miss-Mississippi State women's basketball games typically haven't been record-setters. Prior to last season, only two of MSU's 10 biggest crowds at Humphrey Coliseum came against Ole Miss. The same is true at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, where none of the Rebels' top 15 home crowds have been against the Bulldogs. But a MSU-record crowd of 7,326 for a 55-47 victory against Ole Miss last season at Humphrey Coliseum signaled a change. At the time, the crowd was a record for a women's basketball game in the state of Mississippi.
Don't try to claim that Ole Miss women's basketball coach Matt Insell isn't a positive man. The Rebels' third-year head coach might be the most upbeat coach in the Southeastern Conference. It's not surprising. After all, Insell guided Ole Miss to a seven-win improvement and a postseason berth last season. Entering this season, Insell had one of the youngest and most athletic teams in the SEC and was picked sixth and seventh in the SEC preseason poll by the media and league coaches, respectively. It is the first time Ole Miss has been picked in the top half of the league since it expanded to 14 teams.
STARKVILLE -- Wes Johnson understands velocity.
STARKVILLE -- Quinndary Weatherspoon wants his team to be mentally tougher.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer used the word "difficult" Friday afternoon to describe his team's latest game.
STARKVILLE -- Coaches throw out platitudes all of the time in their post-game news conferences. That's why it wasn't surprising to hear Arkansas women's basketball coach Jimmy Dykes praise No. 7 Mississippi State on Sunday after his team dropped an 80-55 decision at Humphrey Coliseum. Dykes said the Bulldogs are more than a one-player team even though sophomore guard Victoria Vivians -- the team's leading scorer at 17.9 points per game -- attracts most of the attention, at least when it comes to offense.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's Riley Norris hardly missed from outside and South Carolina struggled to hit from anywhere. Norris hit his first seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points Wednesday night to lead the Alabama men's basketball team to a 73-50 upset of previously unbeaten No. 19 South Carolina.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Freshman Antonio Blakeney responded to his removal from the starting lineup by bursting out of a recent shooting slump at an opportune time. Craig Victor scored 18 points, Blakeney added 13 of his 15 points in the final eight minutes, and the LSU men's basketball team defeated Ole Miss 90-81 on Wednesday night.
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2. Donahoe leaving Heritage Aca. for top job at Marshall Aca. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Mullen fills last spot on coaching staff COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU shooting for first regional at new home LOCAL COLUMNS
5. No. 11 MSU women face big test at No. 15 Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS