News from MSU Media Relations--March 11, 2013

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball, Men's Golf.

Men's Basketball

Mississippi State junior guard Tyson Cunningham was named to the 2013 SEC Community Service Team on Monday for his involvement with area youth.

Cunningham, a native of Columbus, Miss., helped create the "Kids With Character" Basketball Camp at Columbus High School, and he also works with ManHood Camp, which is designed for young boys to teach them how to grow up and be real men with character and standards.

He also founded the Lace-Up Program, which is for middle school kids centered toward academics in the summer and exposing them to different educational opportunities as well as enrichment activities.

In addition, he is also active in Big Brother and serves as a volunteer and chaperon at various church camps and programs.

"It's just something I enjoy," he said. "The community has given me so much, and I feel obligated to give back. It's a calling."

Men's Basketball

For the second time this season, Craig Sword has been recognized for his efforts on the court. Monday, the guard from Montgomery, Ala., was tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 19.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals against South Carolina and Auburn.

Against the Tigers, he drained the game-winning free throws in a 74-71 overtime victory.

"I'm really proud of Craig," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "He's worked so hard and is very deserving of this award."

Sword garnered the same accolade the week of Jan. 14 after helping guide the Bulldogs past South Carolina and Georgia to open SEC play.

On the year, Sword is averaging a team-high 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds and is second with 48 steals.

"It's an honor to get this award," the 6-foot-3, 189-pound guard said. "But a lot of credit has to be given to my teammates as well. I can't do the things I do without them."

MSU returns to action at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the opening round of the SEC Tournament against South Carolina in Nashville.

Women's Basketball

Mississippi State sophomore Martha Alwal earned the title of the state's top female college basketball player Monday when she was chosen the winner of the C Spire Gillom Trophy at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Alwal became the second Bulldog to win the award, joining Alexis Rack who won the trophy following the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

"I'm really excited. I worked really hard, so I'm excited I won the award. It's big for the program," Alwal said. "This award is bigger than me. It goes out to my teammates because I wouldn't have won it without them. It also goes out to my coaches because of the support they have shown me this season. I'm just really happy to win this great award."

Alwal finished the season the SEC leader with 16 double-doubles, 10 in conference play.

She also topped the league with 9.7 rebounds per contest, the highest average since LaToya Thomas in 2001-02, and her 292 boards are the fourth-most in a season by a Bulldog.

"I'm really happy for our program and for Martha. Obviously it's an individual award, but as Martha said, it's a reflection of a lot of hard work put in not just by her, but her team. I know she shares this award with our program and our team," head coach Vic Schaefer said. "It will be a great challenge to her to go into the offseason and better herself. She's seen her improvement from one season to the next, now let's see if she can make that next step and improve that much more in the next season."

Alwal rated second in the conference with 2.6 blocks per game. Her 78 swats rate third in MSU history, and her 160 career blocks are 20 back of tying the school record.

The Worthington, Minn., native paced State with 12.1 ppg, and she capped the campaign with a 78.9-percent free-throw percentage, fourth-best in the SEC and ninth in MSU annals.

Alwal claimed the most rebounds by an SEC player this season with 18 in the season-opener against Houston. She also tied for the most blocks in a game with eight against Alabama on Feb. 21.

Southern Miss' Jamierra Faulkner and Ole Miss' Valencia McFarland joined Alwal as finalists for the award.

The winner was selected by a vote of print, radio and television media in the state, and the award was presented at a luncheon at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Men's Golf

As the ominous rain clouds closed in on the Grand National Golf Course, the Bulldogs closed in on the top spot at the 2013 Tiger Invitational with a 4-over-par, 292 opening round.

No. 41 Mississippi State sits only two strokes behind current clubhouse leader East Carolina, who finished the day with a 2-over-par, 290. Kennesaw State and No. 24 Wake Forest are nipping at the Bulldogs' heels after their 5-over-par opening round.

"We played some really good golf today and finished on a high note," Coach Clay Homan said. "Both Robi and Joe finished with two birdies and Axel added another to keep us headed in the right direction. The Lakes Course has about four holes that are as difficult as you will see. We struggled on hole 15, but did what we needed on the par 5's by playing them 13 under in round one. We are in the final pairing tomorrow, but we have so much golf left to play that we can't get ahead of ourselves. We just have to get back after it tomorrow."

MSU finished well above its average opening-round score on Monday; Homan's squad averages a 295.2 in round ones this season. The 292 at the Tiger Invitational is tied for second-lowest total score for an opening round. State averages a 287.8 in round twos, so the great score to tee off the tourney puts the Bulldogs on the path to victory.

One player who always seems to be on the path to victory is junior Chad Ramey. After nailing five birdies in the opening 18 holes Ramey finished at Even-par. His 72 card was good enough to tie for sixth place at the Tiger Invitational. If Ramey keeps up his top-10 performance, it will be his fifth top 10 finish of the season.

Fellow juniors Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Axel Boasson ended Monday tied for 13th with five others. The two shot a 1-over-par, 73 on the day. Sakulpolphaisan has a team leading six top-25 finishes on the year.

Senior Robi Calvesbert turned in a 2-over-par, 74 in the opening round from Opelika. Calvesbert sits poised for his fifth top-25 card after finished the first 18 holes tied for the 20th spot.

Rounding out the Maroon and White scoring on Monday was sophomore Fletcher Johnson. The Tupelo, Miss., native fired off a 5-over-par, 77 at the Grand National course. Johnson is tied for 44th after the opening round.

The rain-soaked round two will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday; round three will begin immediately after.

Live stats will be available through Fans can also follow the men's golf program through Facebook at and on Twitter at @mstateMG.

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