Babe McCarthy Tip-Off Club Awards Banquet Recap

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's SEC Western Division championship basketball team was honored Monday night on the MSU campus, as coach Rick Stansbury's 2002-03 Bulldog squad held its 25th annual Babe McCarthy Tip-Off Club Awards Banquet.

Along with capturing the school's first SEC West crown since claiming back-to-back divisional titles in 1994-95 and 1995-96, the 21-10 Bulldogs also earned their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since advancing to the 1995 Sweet Sixteen and 1996 Final Four. While leading the SEC in rebounding margin (+6.2; 14th in NCAA) for the third consecutive season, MSU also topped the league in scoring defense (59.7 ppg; 8th in NCAA), field-goal percentage defense (40.1%; 16th in NCAA), three-point field-goal percentage defense (32.7%) and steals (8.65 spg). Upon making their second successive appearance in the championship game of the SEC Tournament, the 2002-03 Bulldogs earned a No. 20 national ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Individually, two-time all-SEC guard Derrick Zimmerman collected a team-high four awards Monday night, while fellow senior Michal Ignerski received a pair of individual honors on the evening. In addition to earning a Senior Award and claiming both a second straight Most Assists Award and league statistical title (5.5 apg) as the school's new all-time leader with 514 career assists, Zimmerman also collected his second Best Defensive Player Award after pacing MSU in steals (1.9 spg; 3rd in SEC) and blocks (26) for the second year in a row. The two-time SEC All-Tournament selection, who served as a team co-captain during each of the past two seasons, capped Monday's festivities by being rewarded with the club's prestigious Babe McCarthy Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the Bulldog player who best exemplifies the highest traits of character, leadership, desire and hustle.

The team's third-leading scorer (9.0 ppg) and No. 3 rebounder (4.8 rpg) this past season, Ignerski was also the recipient of a Senior Award, along with garnering the club's first-ever Most Improved Defender and Rebounder Award. The two-year State starter and former junior college all-American also rated third on this year's team in both free-throw percentage (71.7%) and made 3-pointers (27) as a senior.

For the second consecutive season, two-time all-SEC standout Mario Austin was voted MSU's Best Offensive Player and earned the team's Bailey Howell Rebounding Award after leading the Bulldogs and ranking among the SEC's Top 10 leaders in scoring (15.5 ppg; 9th in SEC), rebounding (7.7 rpg; 5th) and field-goal percentage (53.4%; 2nd). Having collected first-team all-SEC plaudits this past season as a junior, Austin ranks 17th on Mississippi State's all-time scoring list with 1,199 career points and 18th on the school's all-time rebounding chart with 570 career boards.

State's Most Improved Player Award went to junior guard Timmy Bowers, who averaged 14.6 points (13th in SEC), 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals (7th) per game this past year as a 31-game starter. The reigning team co-captain and former Mississippi High School Player of the Year from Gulfport also ranked second among league leaders in made 3-pointers per game (2.3 treys/game), sixth in three-point field-goal percentage (41.2%) and 10th in overall field-goal percentage (46.8%).

Rounding out this year's award winners for Mississippi State were sophomore guard Winsome Frazier claiming the team's Best Free Throw Percentage Award and redshirt freshman center Wesley Morgan earning the club's Academic Award. Frazier connected on 25-of-30 (83.3%) of his free throws this past season, while Morgan has compiled a 3.0 cumulative GPA in sports communication.

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