Archive for January, 2008

Bulldogs going to Cincinnati

January 31, 2008

Mississippi State just learned it will be a part of next year’s SEC/Big East challenge.

The Bulldogs will travel to Cincinnati on Dec. 18 (my birthday, by the way) to face the Bearcats. On that same day, Ole Miss will play Louisville.

Also representing the SEC are Tennessee and Vanderbilt, while Marquette and South Florida will represent the Big East.

On Dec. 16 in Nashville, Vanderbilt will face South Florida while Marquette squares off with Tennessee. 

Pretty cool.

Now you should also be impressed with me. I got the email about this on my Blackberry while traveling in horrid wintery conditions, and the first thing I thought of was you guys.

So, I pulled off and found a Holiday Inn Express, walked in and acted like I knew what I was doing and found the business center in order to blog. Ya gotta be impressed, right?

Well, it’s back on the road. I’ll check in tonight.

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Hogs make Dogs sit and rollover

January 30, 2008

Tough night at Bud Walton Arena for Mississippi State.

Arkansas wins 78-58 behind Sommy Weems and Patrick Beverley, who score 22 and 19 points, respectively.

Simply put, the Bulldogs had a bad night. They got beat, but the players said it’s time to move on and not dwell on it. Remember, Arkansas was playing for its SEC lives. Another loss for the Hogs would have been devestating.

Of course, State helped the Razorbacks’ cause with 22 turnovers. You can’t do that on the road and win, and the Bulldogs didn’t.

The good news is that Jamont Gordon had 24 points, while Charles Rhodes had a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. And the strange news is that Jarvis Varnado shot just once. Now, he only playd six minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble. But he played 18 minutes in the second half. He did have four of MSU’s eight blocks, while Rhodes had three.

Here’s another interesting nugget: Having scoring 44 points in the paint against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs had just 14 against Arkansas.

But the biggest question is, will I be able to get home Thursday? The local forcast has issued a severe winter advisory for snow and ice. Could be tricky. So if ya’ll don’t hear from me, you know why.

At the half . . .

January 30, 2008

It’s Arkansas 43, Mississippi State 28.

Geez, LSU had just 39 for the entire game.

Obviously, this isn’t one of the Bulldogs’ best games. They look out of rhythm and a 14-0 run b the Hogs at the midpoint of the game has been the difference.

State was 9 of 24 from the floor and had 13 turnovers in the opening frame, while Arky was 13 of 32 with seven turnovers. The Hogs had 18 points off turnovers, while MSU had just two points off turnover.

Jamont Gordon led State with 12 points, while Ravern Johnson had three. Patrick Beverley paced the Hogs with 14, followed by Sonny Weems with 10. Weems also had three 3-pointers in a minute’s span.

Your thoughts?

Odd first 16 minutes

January 30, 2008

OK. This isn’t the same Mississippi State team we’ve all seen this month, and right now that’s not good.

Arkansas is making shots, getting the rebounds and making free throws. And, the Hogs are leading 31-20.

And it didn’t exactly start all that great for the Bulldogs. Their first seven possessions didn’t net any points, and three ended with turnovers.

Whew! Made it. We can tip now

January 30, 2008

Now I know why there are airplanes.

After two days of travel, I’m alive and well in Fayetteville.

Here’s what I know . . .
• Signing day is a week from today. Hard to believe.
• Mississippi State is 14-5 thanks to a nine-game winning streak and atop the West with a perfect 5-0 mark.
• Likewise, tonight’s opponent, Arkansas, is 14-5, but 3-2 in the SEC.
• I’d have to say this is a more meaningful game for the Razorbacks. Why? Well, it’s at home and they can ill-afford to fall further behind in the standings, and they have to try and catch up with a trip to the Hump. Sure. It would be a great win for MSU, but it won’t be a detramental loss. Plus, I seriously doubt any of you expect a 16-0 record.
• Arkansas’ Charles Thomas won’t play due to a suspension for undisclosed purposes.
• Ben Hansbrough is still out with mono, which means the bench must be on top of its game as it was with Ole Miss last weekend.

Now, for tonight’s scouting report:
Probable Starters
Mississippi State (14-5, 5-0)

G – Phil Turner 6-3 RFr. 5.3 ppg
G – Barry Stewart 6-2 So. 12.0 ppg
G – Jamont Gordon 6-4 Jr. 17.6 ppg
F – Charles Rhodes 6-8 Sr. 14.9 ppg
F – Jarvis Varnado 6-9 So. 7.4 pgp
Arkansas (14-5, 3-2)
F – Darian Townes 6-10 Sr. 10.9 ppg
F – Sonny Weems 6-6 Sr. 13.9 ppg
C – Steven Hill 7-0 Sr. 5.0 ppg
G – Stefan Welsh 6-2 So. 4.8 ppg
G – Patrick Beverly 6-1 So. 11.8 ppg

Court clipings:
• MSU has won eight out of the last 12 in this series.
• The Bulldogs haven’t started 6-0 in SEC play since 1961.
• Since Arkansas joined the in 1992, MSU was won in Fayetteville only two times – 2004 and 2005.

OK. Pick those scores

January 29, 2008

It’s Mississippi State at Arkansas, where the Bulldogs have won just twice in Bud Walton Arena.

Who wins, and who’s your leading scorer? And, how many turnovers with Gary Ervin have?

In other games for your picking pleasure . . .
• Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
• Georgia at South Carolina
• LSU at Auburn

Just in case you missed it . . .

January 28, 2008

Man, that just might be the play of the year. Incredible, I say.

Look who cracks one of the polls

January 28, 2008

For the first time in several years, Mississippi State is ranked.

To be exact, 2005.

While the Bulldogs didn’t crack the AP’s Top 25, they are No. 25 in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.

In the AP, they would be No. 26, the first team out.

And here’s two interesting nuggets provided by David Rosinski of the MSU’s media relations office and DeWayne Peevy of the SEC:
• MSU was last ranked in the ESPN/USA Today poll on Jan. 24, 2005. Since then, they’ve gone 60 weeks out of the poll. As far as the AP poll is concerned, the Bulldogs’ absence is 58 weeks and counting.
• It’s the first time Ole Miss and Mississippi State are ranked in the same basketball poll.

Update on Hansbrough

January 28, 2008

During Monday’s teleconference, MSU coach Rick Stansbury said there is no change in sophomore guard Ben Hansbrough’s status due to mono. The early diagnosis has him out 1-3 weeks, with the latter being more of the case.

Also, with a win on Wednesday Stansbury will collect his 200th at MSU.

Gordon named Wooden Award candidate

January 27, 2008

Jamont Gordon has been selected as a midseason top 30 candidate for this year’s John R. Wooden Award.

The junior guard from Nashville currently ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring (17.6 ppg), fifth in assists (4.4 apg) and tied for 13th in rebounding (6.3 rpg) in all games. In conference action, Gordon stands eighth in field-goal percentage (.508), seventh in three-point percentage (.429) and 11th in assist/turnover ratio (1.36). 

 With his 13-point effort in Saturday’s 88-68 home win against Ole Miss, Gordon moved into 10th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,308 career points. He also stands fifth on the school’s all-time list with 399 career assists and 18th with 572 career rebounds.

Tops on ESPN, too

January 27, 2008

Not only did the Bulldogs establish themselves as the top team in Mississippi on Saturday after manhandling Ole Miss, they got top billing on ESPN as well.

Jamont Gordon’s no-look, behind-the-back pass to Charles Rhodes for the dunk was the network’s top play of the day.

It was impressive.

Now, if you’re interested in a little reading, the Daily Journal is chock ful of stories off the game. . .
* The gamer, written by me.
* My column, which had better been written by me.
*A sidebar on the Rebels’ early foul trouble by Parrish.
* And finally, a notebook on several different topics, also penned by Parrish.

Dogs send Rebs back to Oxford limping

January 26, 2008

OK. I’ll be the first to admit I thought if State was going to score more than 75 points, a loss would follow.

Boy, was I wrong. The Bulldogs delivered a whipping to 17th-ranked Ole Miss, to the tune of 88-68 in front of a packed house at the Hump that was rocking. And to be honest, I didn’t think it was that close.

MSU dominated every facet, and Charles Rhodes was a beast. But I say the player of the game was Jamont Gordon.

Why? No. He didn’t have the pretty stats, but still managed 13 points and six assists. But where he was really effective was the job he did defensively against Chris Warren.

Gordon guarding Warren was a surprise, a move Rick Stansbury said was a risk considering how it might tire his All-SEC performer. However, Gordon wanted the challenge, and he excelled in his quest to contain Warren.

There’s no question the freshman point guard is good. However, he hadn’t faced a defender with the strengh Gordon, and it made a difference.

After the game, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who said the beating was so bad it should count as two losses, was ready to hand Gordon player of the year honors.

Your thoughts? And now do you agree the Bulldogs should be ranked?

It’s the Dogs that are out and running

January 26, 2008

We’ve heard so much about Ole Miss’ transition game, but in the first half, it was Mississippi State that was running and gunning.

And at the half, it’s MSU that’s enjoying the 38-31 advantage.

State’s also found success inside with Jarvis Varnado and Charles Rhodes, who have totaled eight points each. At the same time, Malcolm White has kept the Rebels in striking distance with a team-high nine points off the bench.

State has done a good job containing Chris Warren, who has just three points on 1-of-8 shooting.

The Bulldogs have also blocked four shots.

MSU has hit 14 of its 31 shots, while the Rebs are 14 of 39.

The first half also featured two ties and six lead changes.

Hansbrough out with mono

January 26, 2008

I just got off the phone with Rick Stansbury, who said sophomore guard Ben Hansbrough is out at least two to three weeks with mono.

“Unbelievable,” said the 10th-year coach, whose team battles Ole Miss at 4 p.m. today at Humphrey Coliseum. “That means my top three players now coming off the bench are freshmen. Unbelievable.”

The Bulldogs have certainy had their share of adversity in recent weeks. Senior forward Charles Rhodes missed three games with a severly sprained ankle, while Hansbrough was already slowed with a broken middle finger on his left hand.

“They’re not going to cancel the games or feel sorry for us, but this is tough,” Stansbury said. “We all know what Ben means to this team. Now, our younger guys are really going to have to step hand and give us some quality minutes off that bench.”

Oops! I forgot to link today’s preview. My bad.

Today’s Ole Miss-MSU scouting report

January 26, 2008

Probable Starters
Ole Miss (15-1, 2-1 SEC)

G – Chris Warren 5-11 Fr. 15.9ppg
G – Trevor Gaskins 6-2 Fr. 8.6ppg
G – Eniel Polynice 6-5 So. 12.6ppg
C – Dwayne Curtis 6-8 Sr. 15.1ppg
F – Kenny Williams 6-8 Sr. 8.4ppg
Top Reserves: F Jermey Parnell, G David Huertas

Mississippi State (13-4, 4-0 SEC)
F –
Charles Rhodes 6-8 Sr. 14.1ppg
G – Jamont Gordon 6-4 Jr. 17.8ppg
C – Jarvis Varnado 6-9 So. 5.2rpg
G – Barry Stewart 6-2 So. 12.0ppg
G – Phil Turner 6-3 RFr. 5.6ppg
Top Reserves: F Brian Johnson, G Ravern Johnson

Notes
* Ole Miss and State top the SEC in rebounding, the Rebels with a plus-7.1 margin, the Bulldogs at plus-6.9
*Ole Miss has only one native Mississippian on its roster, walk-on Will Poole, while the Bulldogs have five Mississippians on their roster
* Ties are much stronger with the Ole Miss coaches. Kennedy grew up in nearby Louisville and was recruited heavily by former MSU coach Bob Boyd. Assistant coach Owen Miller was an MSU assistant under Richard Williams when the Bulldogs reached the Sweet 16 in 1995 and the Final Four in 1996.
* Rick Stansbury has never lost to Ole Miss at Humphrey Coliseum
* Since 1983, the Rebels have won just twice at the Hump

My time with Slive

January 25, 2008

Last week, I spent time with SEC commissioner Mike Slive, peppering him with all kinds of questions. Fortunately for me, he was gracious enough to answer each question thoroughly and with great detail.

To whet your appetite, here is a small sampling:

Daily Journal: Do you foresee a playoff system with Division I football?
Mike Slive: It depends on how you define playoffs. Notwithstanding President Adams (Georgia) efforts a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t found there to be significant support amongst decision makers for what we call an NFL style playoff. Having said that, I’ve been talking for two years about being open minded for the future and explore alternatives, such as a plus-1.
I’m committed, and three other colleagues are committed to continue discussions the coming year. Whether that happens, I don’t know. Whether it satisfies the fans, I don’t know .
I do know the last this past season we sent nine teams to bowls and 1,000 players had a chance to enjoy that experience. Making football a two-semester sport is something I have been reluctant to do. I can’t imagine playing all fall, and then not being able to go to school the first two weeks and spending rest of year catching up.
Daily Journal: What are the next major goals you’d like to see the SEC achieve?
Mike Slive: Maintain our competitive success and have continued progress off the field.
We’re also working on new television packages. Our CBS, ESPN and Raycom media packages come to term at the end of 29008-09 academic year. This is something we’ve been working on for about a year and will be working on in earnest the next month.

For the entire interview, check out Sunday’s Daily Journal. Of course, I’ll post the story in its entirety on Sunday morning.

OK. Time to pick that score

January 25, 2008

Ole Miss at Mississippi State . . .

A. Your score
B. Key to the game
C. Sunday morning headlines

Oh, and did you see the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Lady Rebels 57-52? Something tells me you just might see that kind of score again on Saturday.

And for your reading pleasure, he’s a small SEC notebook for you to enjoy this morning.

Cheers!

Saying ‘see ya later’ to a good a friend

January 24, 2008

Those of you who watch WTVA out of Tupelo are more than familiar with Jim Holder, one of the NBC affiliate’s sports anchors.

Well, today Jim will sign off for the final time, as he’s getting out of the business.

Talk about a good guy. Usually, where I’m at, so too is Jim. And over the years we’ve become good friends, to the point we were roommates in New York for the NIT Final Four.

Lemme just say Jim is smart, because he’s finally moving on to a place he can make some of that real money I’m always hearing about. Way to make the break, Jim, and good luck. You will finally get to work normal work hours and be with your family. However, you won’t be able to get into the games for free. Oh, well. Can’t have it all, I guess.

Coach Speak

January 24, 2008

Just talked to both Rick Stansbury and Andy Kennedy, and you’d think the two are marketing each other’s teams.

Rick loves Chris Warren and Dwayne Curtis, and Andy is a big fan of Jarvis Varnado, Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon.

Talk about a lovefest. I was hoping to hear one say the other is overrated and an easy win is expected. Didn’t get that.

Says Stansbury:
“They’ve had a tremendous year, and they’re a tremendous team. We know we have to play our best basketball. The biggest surprise in this league is Chris Warren. The guy that may be the sole difference in that team has been Warren. The guy can shoot it, handle it and pass it.”

Says Kennedy:
“Mississippi State is playing as well as anybody in our league. Rick has them playing at a very high level. Defensively, the numbers speak to the fact they are a tremendous basketball team. Varando is tremendous in the way he impacts a game. Charles Rhodes, even though not 100 percent, played himself back to the Charles Rhodes we all know and feared. Jamont Gordon, in my opinion, is the most difficult matchup in the league. When he’s making perimeter shots, he’s truly a handful.”

SEC flavor in the Super Bowl

January 24, 2008

Next week’s Super Bowl matchup between New England and New York features 21 former SEC players. And yes, Mississippi State and Ole Miss both are represented.

New England Patriots (13)
OT Wesley Britt, Alabama
RB Heath Evans, Auburn
RB Kevin Faulk, LSU
WR Jabar Gaffney, Florida
CB Randall Gay, LSU
DL Jarvis Green, LSU
WR Chad Jackson, Florida
DL Rashad Moore, Tennessee
DL Richard Seymour, Georgia
WR Donte’ Stallworth, Tennessee
WR Kelley Washington, Tennessee
TE Ben Watson, Georgia

New York Giants (8)
CB Kevin Dockery, Mississippi State
QB Jared Lorenzen, Kentucky
QB Eli Manning, Ole Miss
LB Reggie Torbor, Auburn
CB Corey Webster, LSU
S Gibril Wilson, Tennessee
QB Anthony Wright, South Carolina
RB Danny Ware, Georgia
NOTE: There’s also Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, who lettered at Auburn for one season, before transferring to Southern Illinois University.

And of course, there’s basketball this weekend with Ole Miss visiting the Hump. In today’s Daily Journal, Parrish Alford and myself looked at the point guards with the Bulldogs’ Jamont Gordon and the Rebels’ Chris Warren.