STARKVILLE, Miss. - With the highly-anticipated start of the 2011-12 basketball campaign just around the corner, Mississippi State fans can get a jumpstart on the season with the inaugural Maroon Madness, set for Oct. 14.
Festivities begin at 6 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Starkville with Pumpkinpalooza, an annual, family-friendly event that begins with a pep rally for the Bulldogs' football game against nationally-ranked South Carolina and MSU athletics director, Scott Stricklin, serving as one of the featured speakers.
Following the pep rally, Maroon Madness shifts to campus at 7 p.m., where the MSU soccer team plays host to South Carolina, and the volleyball squad battles Kentucky at Humphrey Coliseum. Gates to the Hump will open at 6 p.m., with seating based on a first-come first-served basis.
Immediately following the volleyball match, it's all basketball as both the men's and women's teams take center stage, where fans can see firsthand what the buzz is all about for the upcoming season. There will be giveaways, 3-point shooting contests, scrimmages and much, much more.
There will also be a chance for students to win major prizes such as an iPad 2, courtside seats to a non-conference game and a semester of books valued at $500. To win, students must register at either the soccer or volleyball games and be present for the drawing at the end of the night.
All Maroon Madness events are free to the public.
DALLAS - Four of the nation's premier college basketball programs will be on display when "The Showcase" returns to Dallas on Dec. 28 at American Airlines Center, home of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. The second annual event features Oklahoma State vs. SMU in the opening game of the nationally televised doubleheader followed by a showdown of two likely Top-25 teams as Baylor battles Mississippi State.
The second-annual doubleheader highlights top college basketball each season. Last year's event featured Texas A&M rallying to defeat Arkansas and Gonzaga knocking off Baylor.
"This year's Showcase highlights some of the nation's best teams and best talent - most of which is homegrown here in Texas," said Brooks Downing, Executive Vice President of Lagardère Unlimited. "The basketball fans of Dallas and the surrounding region will have the opportunity to see the country's top teams, premier players and the top new faces in college basketball."
Oklahoma State (20-14 last season) returns to Dallas for the first time since 2004 and will be led by hometown star, LeBryan Nash. The McDonald's All-American out of Lincoln High School was ranked as the No. 6 player nationally in the Class of 2011 and the freshman leads a Top-25 OSU recruiting class for the new season.
"We are very excited to be a part of the basketball doubleheader being played in the American Airlines Center this December," said Travis Ford, the Oklahoma State coach. "It will give our alumni base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area a great opportunity to watch our basketball team this season as the Metroplex has always been such a strong recruiting base for Oklahoma State. We are looking forward to taking Reger Dowell and Le'Bryan Nash - two Dallas area greats - back home and letting them play in front of their hometown crowd."
Excitement runs high for SMU as Coach Matt Doherty led the Mustangs to the program's first 20-win season in more than a decade in 2010-11 and the school's first post-season berth since 2000. This year's squad features six players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area led by 6-8 senior Robert Nyakundi, who averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
"We are honored to be Dallas' team in The Showcase," said Doherty. "We won 20 games last season and earned a post-season berth, plus we have six student-athletes on our roster from DFW. This is a great opportunity for our team and a great event for college basketball fans in Dallas."
Baylor, which has become a national powerhouse under theguidance of Coach Scott Drew, enters the 2011-12 season with the highest ofexpectations with four starters returning and a top-20 recruiting class. Perry Jones III enters the season as a pre-season All-American candidate and projected lottery selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. Prep stars Quincy Miller(No. 7 nationally) and Deuce Bello (No. 53) highlight the Bears' incoming freshmen.
"We are always excited to play in Dallas, especially in such an excellent venue like American Airlines Center," Drew said. "I know how much this game means to our players from the Metroplex and this game also provides a great opportunity for Baylor Nation to see us play in a great venue outside of the Ferrell Center."
Mississippi State will come to Dallas for only the second time in program history after playing in the 2002 NCAA Tournament at the AAC. The Bulldogs will be loaded with talent including returning stars Dee Bost (All-SEC Second Team in 2010-11) and Renardo Sidney and a highly touted crop of freshman led by prep All-American Rodney Hood. Coach Rick Stansbury has transformed MSU into a national power in his 13 years as head coach, which has included eight 20-win seasons over the past 10 years.
"I know our players are thrilled to play in an NBA arena, home of the world champion Mavs, but at the same time, we also understand that Baylor will be one of the more experienced teams in the country," said Stansbury. "They will be a top-10 team, if not top five. It will be a great challenge for our program, but one we are looking forward to."
The Oklahoma State-SMU game will tip at 5:30 p.m. CT followed by the Baylor-Mississippi State contest at 8:00 p.m. CT. ESPNU (available to 73 million households) will televise OSU-SMU and with Baylor-MSU being shown on ESPN2 (100 million households).
Each quadrant of the arena has been assigned to each fan base, much like an NCAATournament layout. Tickets are priced at $99 (lower sidelines), $59 (lower corners) and $29 (end zones). Public tickets are now on sale at the American Airlines Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Premium ticket packages and complete event info can be found at www.showcase-dallas.com. For group sales or sponsorship opportunities, interested parties should contact Lagardère Unlimited at 859.264.8020.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A full slate of promotions will be taking place at the MSU Soccer Field this weekend as Mississippi State opens the home SEC slate against Alabama and Auburn.
Friday night will be a True Maroon and Residence Life Night as the Dawgs challenge the Crimson Tide at 7 p.m.
The first 150 students that live in a residence hall receive a free t-shirt, and there will be a residence hall relay at halftime.
Bring your True Maroon spirit because the most-enthusiastic fan will win a flat screen television at halftime.
Head coach Neil Macdonald's Bulldogs will be signing autographs after Friday night's match and Sunday's 1 p.m. contest against Auburn.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early and tailgate on Sunday, as the best tailgate setup will receive a tailgate package from The Lodge and a $25 gift card to Abner's Famous Chicken Tenders.
Inflatables will be setup for the youngsters on Sunday, and in addition to the post-match autograph session, the Bulldogs will host a free skills clinic.
Mississippi State enters the weekend looking to bounce back following a pair of tough setbacks at LSU and Arkansas last weekend that dropped the Dawgs to 3-5-2 overall and 0-2-0 in league play.
The Dawgs are paced by junior Jasmine Simmons, who scored her second goal of the season last Friday. Simmons, an Oklahoma City native, also has an assist for a team-best five points.
Sophomore Elisabeth Sullivan has tallied four points on the year behind a goal and two assists.
Junior goalkeeper Skylar Rosson leads the Mississippi State defense. Rosson has stopped 46 shots this season while allowing 15 goals for a 1.61 goals-against average.
State entertains Alabama having won two of the last three meetings with the Crimson Tide in Starkville. UA boasts a 6-3-1 record and 1-1 league mark after splitting against Vanderbilt and Kentucky last weekend.
Laura Lee Smith and Kendall Khanna lead the Tide with seven points each. Smith has hit three goals while assisting on another, while Khanna has scored twice with three assists.
The Crimson Tide has mostly used Justine Bernier in goal this season, but she was sent off last Sunday with a red card against Kentucky. Backup Shanna Brooks has saved 10 shots while allowing four goals in three matches.