News from MSU Media Relations--November 4

The lastest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs close out their preseason basketball slate Saturday evening on the MSU campus by playing host to reigning NAIA runner-up Oklahoma City University. Tip-off at Humphrey Coliseum is set for 6 p.m., and there will be no charge for admission into the exhibition contest.

Saturday's exhibition game will be available through Maroon to the Max, MState's premium audio/video streaming service for internet users at www.mstateathletics.com. Bart Gregory will call the play-by-play action, while former Bulldog standout Shane Power is slated to provide the color analysis for the MSU-OCU game.

With 10 of their 13 available rostered players classified as either freshmen or sophomores, the Bulldogs opened their 2006-07 preseason schedule by claiming an 88-61 exhibition victory over NAIA member Auburn University Montgomery this past Wednesday. Despite committing 34 turnovers, MSU doubled the Senators on the boards, 64-32, and limited the visitors to only 25-percent field-goal shooting on the night. With four Bulldog players scoring in double figures against AUM, preseason all-SEC forward Charles Rhodes tallied a game-high 24 points on 7-of-9 accuracy from the field and 10-of-15 charity tosses. Fellow preseason all-league standout Jamont Gordon totaled 16 points and nine rebounds, while freshman guard Ben Hansbrough contributed 15 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the line, five rebounds and four assists. Senior forward Piotr Stelmach collected a team-most dozen rebounds and added nine points to State's winning effort.

As a team earlier this week in exhibition action against Auburn University Montgomery, the Bulldogs shot 49 percent from the field and benefitted from 32-of-45 free-throw shooting. Defensively, MSU was credited with 11 blocked shots versus AUM, including nine rejects in the first half alone.

Currently riding an eight-game winning streak in exhibition competition, the Bulldogs own a 14-2 composite record in preseason contests since Stansbury took over MSU's head coaching duties in 1998. Last season, Mississippi State knocked off NCAA Division II members West Georgia (80-66) and West Florida (76-73) during preseason action.

The reigning runners-up of last year's NAIA Tournament, the Oklahoma City Stars are ranked second nationally in the NAIA Division I preseason poll behind Robert Morris College of Illinois. The 29-8 Stars lost at the buzzer to Texas Wesleyan in the championship game of the 2006 NAIA Tournament. Picked in the preseason to prevail once again in the Sooner Athletic Conference, OCU is guided by second-year head coach Ray Harper, who previously guided Kentucky Wesleyan to six consecutive NCAA Division II championship-game appearances, including national titles in 1999 and 2001. This season's 12-man Oklahoma City roster is comprised of 11 first-year players, including 6-foot-10 University of Nebraska transfer B.J. Walker, 6-foot-6 New Mexico State transfer Duane John and 6-foot-1 Cal Poly transfer Kameron Gray. OCU opened its 2006-07 campaign by registering an easy 82-36 triumph over Hillsdale Baptist this past Thursday in Oklahoma City, as Walker paced the winners with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

Mississippi State officially tips off the school's 95th season of men's basketball collegiate competition by playing host to Nicholls State out of the Southland Conference next Saturday (Nov. 11). Game time is slated for 2 p.m. at MSU's 10,500-seat Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs will continue their season-opening, three-game homestand by welcoming Loyola Marymount and reigning NCAA Tournament participant Winthrop on Nov. 13 and 18, respectively.


Women's Tennis
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - Mississippi State's lady netters played through cold weather conditions at the 2006 edition of the SEC Coaches Classic on Friday, finishing all but one singles match, which was halted due to weather.

In A Draw competition Friday, MSU's Martina Banikova took her first match in three sets 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 against South Carolina's Ana Zubori, but later fell to Auburn's Fani Chifchieva 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

State's Renee Joseph dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to 125th-ranked Kelley Hyndman of Georgia in first-round B Draw action. In her consolation contest, she won an early set 6-4 from Carolina Escamilla of Kentucky, but ultimately fell 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Freshman Valeriya Makarycheva had her C Draw consolation match against LSU's Ashley Murdock suspended after the two had split sets due to the frigid weather. Earlier in the day, Makarycheva suffered a 6-1, 7-5 first-round main draw setback to Alabama's Nicole Briceno to place her into the halted consolation match with Murdock.

Also in C Draw action, Lady Bulldog Elna de Villiers fell 6-2, 6-2 in her opener against Liberty Sveke of Vanderbilt, and later dropped her consolation match. MSU's Daniela Juskova retired in singles action when she fell ill in her match against Kentucky's Caroline Winebrenner. She had fallen 6-4 in the first set.

In the D Draw, State's Tatiana Feit was downed by Georgia's Adrienne Elsberry in the first round, before falling in a tighter 7-6, 6-3 affair to Christine Johnston of Kentucky in the consolation round.

In addition to Friday's suspended matches, two rounds of doubles and one round of singles are slated for Saturday.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State softball head coach Jay Miller will lead the U.S. Junior National team in the Pan-American Qualifier, to be held November 10-18 in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

The team consists of 16 high school and collegiate players, including the University of Tennessee's Tiffany Huff.

Miller is no stranger to international competition. In the early ‘90s, Miller served on the National Team selection committee that was in charge of choosing the inaugural USA Softball Team that competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He has also served as a head coach with the USA Red Squad that captured Gold in the 2001 U.S. Cup and the USA Elite Team that took home runner-up honors at the 2002 Canada Cup and the championship of the 2003 Canada Cup. He also served as an assistant for the USA National Team that won gold at both the Pacific Rim Sports Summit and the International Cup in 2005.

Team USA begins play November 10 versus Venezuela at 12:30 p.m. CT. They will play eight games before starting bracket play, November 16.


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