STARKVILLE ó The push is on to make the NCAA tournament. For the first 37 minutes Thursday night, the Mississippi State womenís 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 ó Rick Stansbury hasnít spent a lot of time mulling over the history that could be made tonight. In fact, the Mississippi State menís basketball coach didnít 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 NCAAís 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 NCAAís Amateurism Fact-Finding Committee. The committee met Monday to review the NCAAís first statement of facts, MSUís response to the statement, and the NCAAís reply to MSU.
STARKVILLE ó†Rick Stansbury knew depth was going to be an issue this season. The Mississippi State menís 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 menís basketball team has bought into coach Anthony Grantís 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. Heís 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. Thereís just one senior and three juniors.
STARKVILLE ó The time to find solutions is running out. Two-game losing streaks in January donít ruin a seasonís 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 womenís 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 ó†Digging and clawing are two reasons the Ole Miss and Mississippi State womenís basketball teams are going in opposite directions. On one end, Shantell Black and Kayla Melson attacked the rim with purpose and Nikki Byrd wouldnít 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 heroís welcome in three weeks.
STARKVILLE ó Alexis Rack tells it like it is. The Mississippi State senior guard doesnít mind direct questions because she will be very honest with her feelings about her play and the teamís performance.
Bianca Thomas wants the basketball in her hands, even if it is against a professional. Thomasí confidence that she can deliver for the University of Mississippi womenís 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.
West Point High Schoolís Curtis Virges can fill a lane on the basketball court. At 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Virges can be a pretty imposing figure to drive to the basket against. Although he enjoys giving what he can to the West Point basketball team, Virges has more†than just hoops on his mind. Virges canít wait for Feb. 3, when he can officially sign a football scholarship with Mississippi State.
Give Mark White a chance and he could talk about John Harris all day. The East Mississippi Community College menís basketball coach has nothing but good things to say about the sophomore guard from Starkville. White said Harris has been instrumental in helping the Lions to a 14-3 record this season.
Having the last name of Favre carries a great deal of weight in the football world. Itís a unique name that became very well known when Brett Favre, a quarterback from Kiln in south Mississippi, emerged as a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl winner for the Green Bay Packers. Brettís career continued Sunday as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, who beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 to earn a spot in the National Football Conference championship game. Another quarterback in south Mississippi with the last name of Favre is looking to make name for himself.
The Mississippi State menís basketball team received two pieces of good news Monday. After bolting to a 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play to lead the Western Division and winning 12 of its last 13 games, MSU is back in the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 23. Senior center Jarvis Varnado also was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week
STARKVILLE ó Amanda Butler didnít think it would last. When Fox Sports Net analyst Carol Ross asked Butler at halftime what her University of Florida womenís basketball team would have to do in the second half to maintain its three-point lead against Mississippi State, Butler said the Lady Gators would have to step up their defense. Butlerís thinking was simple: MSU has been a second-half team and the odds were Alexis Rack and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs werenít going to shoot as poorly in the second half
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has stressed the importance of in-state recruiting ever since he took the job more than one year ago. Two recruiting experts have given Mullen and the Bulldogs a thumbs up in that regard. Yancy Porter of Scout.com and Barton Simmons of Rivals.com agree that MSU†has†the upper hand in the state when it comes to getting Mississippi talent.
Mississippi Stateís football program hasnít noticed any major recruiting backlash with the departures of defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and defensive line coach David Turner in the offseason. Torbush left MSU in December to join Turner Gillís coaching staff as defensive coordinator at Kansas, while Turner went to the Kentucky to coach the defensive line for Joker Phillips. MSU head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday that heís filling the vacancies with former Middle Tennessee State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Oklahoma defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
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