After defeating the 6th ranked Kentucky Wildcats at home in their first SEC game, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have hit a couple of bumps in the road in SEC play the past two games.
Mississippi State first went on the road against Arkansas and lost by 11. Mississippi State has never defeated Arkansas in the Bud Walton Arena. In fact, the Final Four MSU team lost by 12 in the arena. MSU played well for the first 30 minutes of the game, but Arkansas pulled away during the last ten minutes of the game.
Next up for the Bulldogs was rival Mississippi at Oxford. In a game that I felt MSU had a good chance of winning, the Bulldogs played one of their poorest games of the year. They missed crucial free throws and turned the ball over 17 times to Mississippi's 7. The only thing that allowed them to stay in the ballgame was a poor first half performance by the Rebels.
The Bulldogs outplayed the Rebels in the first half, and led by four at the intermission, but allowed the Rebels to jump out to a fast start in the second half. The Rebels made two quick three-pointers to start off the second half to take a two-point lead. The Rebels kept the Bulldogs on their heels the rest of the half and pulled away to earn a seven-point victory.
The schedule becomes easy, then tough again during the next five SEC games...
After having played at two of the toughest places on the road in the SEC (Arkansas and Mississippi) and one of the two or three best teams in the SEC (Kentucky), Mississippi State will play two of their next three SEC games at home, with Tennessee coming into town this Wednesday and LSU Saturday, the 25th. In between those two games, MSU faces an outstanding Alabama team in Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State then travels to Auburn and Florida to complete the first half of their SEC schedule.
Just looking at those five games, the Bulldogs should win two and could steal a victory at either Alabama or Auburn. A 3-5 or 4-4 record after their first 8 SEC games would be considered very good for this fairly young and, to a lesser extent, inexperienced team.
The Bulldogs would then play five of their last eight SEC games in the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum.
I predict the Bulldogs should finish either 21-9 or 22-8 this year and go to the NCAA Tournament, the first time since their Final Four year.
RPI remains steady...
After beginning the season at 187, Mississippi State's RPI has stayed in the 15 to 30 range the past few days. As of Saturday, MSU's RPI was 24, up from 14. Based on the same RPI ranking, Mississippi State was fifth in the SEC, behind Georgia (5th), Florida (10th), Arkansas (14th) and Kentucky (23rd). The only other SEC teams ranked in the top 50 in RPI were Alabama, 25th, and South Carolina, 47th.
Lady Bulldogs coming on strong...
The Lady Bulldogs, behind the play of junior All-American LaToya Thomas and freshman sensation Tan White, are currently 3-1 in the SEC -- 12-5 overall -- after defeating Kentucky on the road and winning two-of-three at home. The Lady Bulldogs defeated rival Mississippi and 8th ranked Georgia (1-2 in the SEC) on their home court, while losing to 10th ranked South Carolina (4-0 in the SEC).
They will now go on the road for three of their next four games.
With Mississippi State baseball right around the corner, Dudy Noble field was a beehive of activity with MSU's well-known pitcher/catcher and hitters' winter camps going on this past Saturday and Sunday.
Over 360 youngsters ranging from the 9th grade to the 12th grade were honing their skills under the watchful eyes of Mississippi State's coaching staff, other college coaches and a number of pro scouts.
Included among the players present were top propsects junior pitcher Robbie Wooley, a Prospects Plus 200 national prospect from Kokomo, Indiana, Clinton (MS) High School junior pitcher Mike Cashion and junior SS/RHP Trent Hill from Walker High School in Jasper, Alabama.
Bulldogs ranked in pre-season...
The Diamond Dogs begin this year ranked 23rd by Collegiate Baseball and 17th by Baseball America.
The first practice is set for February 1st.
Mississippi State returns most of their starting pitching staff, including sophomore LHP Paul Maholm, senior RHP Tanner Brock and junior lefty Joey Collums, all SEC starters last year, and starting position players SS Matthew Maniscalco, 1B Matthew Brinson , LF Michael Brown, 3B Steve Gendron, C Jason Burkley, and DH Brent Lewis.
Mississippi State had its biggest recruiting weekend this past weekend. Eleven of MSU's 13 commitments officially visited this weekend. Included in that number were the top three prospects in the state of Mississippi and three of the top 25 players in the country, according to The Sporting News, Jerious Norwood, Darren Williams and Deljuan Robinson. Top out-of-state prospects who visited were athlete Nicholas Turner of Booker T. Washington High School of Atlanta and quarterback Justin Tyler of Jones County High School in Gray, Georgia.
Tyler, who is also considered one of the top 150 baseball players in the nation, committed to MSU this weekend as did the Hernando High School duo of Deljuan Robinson and Kevin Dockery.
After having to sit out the summer and fall, MSU's newest track athlete Marquis Davis (6-2, 200) didn't disappoint. In his first track event, Davis won the 60-meter dash event in 6.71 seconds. That provisionally qualifies Davis for the NCAAs.
For those that don't know who Davis is, in 2000 he was one of the 30 fastest humans in the world in the 100 and 200 meters, according to official track times. Of all the other athletes who were above him in the rankings, only one was younger. Davis is just a babe in the woods as far as his track potential is concerned.
Davis, unusually large to be a world-class sprinter, will be walking on the football team this spring in an attempt to earn a roster spot as a Dog Safety. He played WR and DB in high school in Memphis.
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UPCOMING CALENDAR EVENTS
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Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.
Have a great Bulldog week and a great New Year!
Archived Monday Morning Coffee Break Articles:
Jan. 7, 2002
Dec. 31, 2001
Dec. 24, 2001
Dec. 17, 2001
Dec. 10, 2001
Dec. 3, 2001
Nov. 26, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 12, 2001
Nov. 7, 2001
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.