News from MSU Media Relations--Dec. 9

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Basketball, Football and Volleyball.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - It's been 12 days since Mississippi State last played a basketball game, but that all changes on Saturday when the Bulldogs host East Tennessee State for the first of five games in as many days.

Tip at Humphrey Coliseum is slated for 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased for $5. Prior to the men's game, the MSU women battle Utah at 4 p.m.

Mississippi State enters the contest with a 4-1 ledger following its 61-59 setback to Florida Atlantic on Nov. 30. In that game, Ravern Johnson paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, while Kodi Augustus recorded his fourth double-double of the year with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The 6-foot-7 Johnson leads the SEC and is fourth nationally with his 25.4 scoring clip, while Augustus paces the league with his 10.8 boards.

The Buccaneers come to Starkville with a 3-4 record and looking to end a two-game losing skid. Saturday marks just the third meeting between the two schools, with each team winning once. The last meeting came in December of 1988, with ETSU claiming a 91-82 victory in Johnson City, Tenn.

After Saturday, MSU hosts North Carolina A&T on Sunday, Nicholls State on Monday and Alabama State on Tuesday before traveling to Jackson on Wednesday to face Belhaven in exhibition play. The game against Alabama State will be televised by CSS.

All of those games begin at 7 p.m., except for Sunday's outing with North Carolina A&T, which tips at 1 p.m.

"It'll be a challenge," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said in reference to the five games in five days stretch. "But truth be known, players would rather play games than practice. And I promise you games are easier than practice. It will be challenging in a lot of different ways, and maybe makes us do some things differently than we would do. We've practiced a couple of different times, and this is a week you try to add a few things and adjust a few things.

"Back when we made the schedule, it was more appealing than it is now. But we wouldn't change it. For us to make some things work and get to where we wanted, this is what we needed to do."

ETSU marks the first team MSU has played this season that participated in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Bucs return four starters from that squad, and are currently led in scoring by Mike Smith and Mica Williams at 15.0 and 12.1 points, respectively.

Starkville, Miss. - Mississippi State redshirt freshmen Gabe Jackson and Nickoe Whitley were named to the Coaches' All-SEC Freshman team announced by the Southeastern Conference on Thursday.

Jackson, a Liberty, Miss.,-native, started all 12 games this season at left guard on the offensive line for the Bulldogs. Jackson helped pave the way for the MSU rushing attack that ranked 16th nationally and second in the SEC, averaging 215.75 yards a game.

Whitley, a redshirt freshman from Jackson, Miss., started 10 games at free safety for MSU while seeing action in all 12. Whitley totaled 47 tackles, had 1.5 sacks and tied for the lead on the team with three interceptions this season.

Jackson and Whitley join Derek Sherrod, Chris White and Pernell McPhee who all earned All-SEC honors earlier this week.

Mississippi State returns to the practice fields Friday afternoon in its first practice in preparation for a Gator Bowl matchup against Michigan in Jacksonville, Fla. on Jan. 1.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Head football coach Dan Mullen will open the first week of his team's on-campus practices in preparation for the 2011 Gator Bowl.

The Bulldogs will work at 4 p.m. Friday, 12:45 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Next week's schedule will include a 1:30 workout on Monday and Tuesday, 3 p.m. Wednesday practice and a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium on Thursday evening.

Mississippi State will play Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl at 1:30 p.m. (ET) January 1st at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Twelve players and three student managers for the 2010 Mississippi State volleyball team have been awarded varsity letters by MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood for the recently-completed season.

A pair of senior players received their fourth varsity letters - middle blocker Ashley Newsome and libero Kayla Woodard. Third-year letter-winners include Kellye Jordan and Caitlin Rance. Sophomores Chanelle Baker, Mandy Mellencamp and Hillary Parker lettered for the second time while freshmen Iwa Belisario, Sydney Knose, Dani McCree and Paris Perret and junior Hannah Wilkinson earned their initial varsity letters.

Student managers receiving letters include seniors Meaghan Schlueter, Lydia Barnett and Roechelle Croskey.

Hazelwood also announced team awards for the 2010 campaign. Newsome, a second-team All-SEC selection, and Rance, the team leader in kills and attack percentage, shared team MVP honors for 2010. Sophomore setter Hillary Parker was tabbed as the team's most improved player and senior libero Kayla Woodard, who recently became MSU volleyball's third academic All-American, was chosen as the recipient of the team's Relentless Effort Award.

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