STARKVILLE, Miss. - As SEC West Champion Mississippi State readies for this week's SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Atlanta, standouts Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes have been named to the Coaches All-SEC First and Second Teams, respectively. As voted on by the league's 12 head men's basketball coaches, the SEC men's basketball postseason awards were announced Wednesday from the league's headquarters in Birmingham.
In addition, State rookie guards Barry Stewart and Ben Hansbrough were selected to the 10-man SEC All-Freshman Team as voted on as well by the league's head coaches.
Rating as the lone underclassman on this year's nine-man Coaches All-SEC First Team, Gordon enters postseason tournament play ranked sixth in the league in scoring (15.8 ppg), eighth in rebounding (7.2 rpg) and fifth in assists (5.0 apg) for all games. The versatile sophomore guard/forward also stands among the conference's top 15 leaders in nine statistical categories for SEC games only. The Nashville native becomes the first Mississippi State underclassman to achieve first-team all-conference status since former Bulldog All-American and current Dallas Mavericks center Erick Dampier accomplished the feat in 1993-94. Also recently named to the second-team listings of The Associated Press All-SEC Team and the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 6 Team, Gordon currently hails as the only NCAA Division I men's basketball player to average 15.5+ points, 7.0+ rebounds and 5.0+ assists per contest on the year. The former Oak Hill Academy product was a unanimous SEC All-Freshman Team selection a year ago for coach Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs' second-leading scorer (13.6 ppg) and No. 2 rebounder (6.0 rpg) to rank 19th and 11th in the conference, respectively, Rhodes is a repeat performer on the league's second-team all-conference squad. The former Jackson Lanier High School all-state performer becomes the first MSU player to earn all-SEC honors as both a sophomore and junior since Mario Austin in 2002 and 2003. A finalist for last year's Cellular South Howell Trophy, Rhodes enters this week's SEC Tournament action also ranked fourth in the SEC in field-goal percentage (.569) and ninth in blocked shots (1.6 bpg) for all games. Having averaged 18.4 points over his last seven regular-season outings, Rhodes stands ninth in the league in scoring (15.4 ppg), 11th in rebounding (6.1 rpg), third in blocks (1.9 bpg) and second in field-goal percentage (.578) for conference games only. The junior forward has averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over his last two seasons, along with shooting a collective 56.7 percent from the field dating back to the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
Joining Tennessee and Kentucky with multiple selections to this year's SEC All-Freshman Team, Mississippi State has now had at least one all-freshman honoree three times in the last four years. The reigning Class AAA Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee, Stewart is MSU's third-leading scorer (10.1 ppg) on the year and also ranks as the league's No. 3 freshman scorer behind SEC Freshman of the Year Patrick Beverley of Arkansas and Tennessee's Ramar Smith. Ranking sixth in the league in free-throw percentage (.784) and 13th in made 3-pointers per game (1.97/gm), the Shelbyville, Tenn., native needs three more treys to break Reginald Delk's freshman season school record of 59 made 3-pointers set a year ago.
Last year's Mr. Show-Me Basketball recipient as Missouri's Class 5A player of the year, Hansbrough is averaging 6.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest as a Bulldog rookie. Rating fifth overall in the SEC in assist/turnover ratio (2.02) for all games and fourth (2.18) for conference games only, Hansbrough leads all SEC freshmen in assists to rank 11th overall in the league in that category. In addition to recently becoming the third MSU freshman to hand out 100 or more assists, he is also currently ranked second on the school's all-time season chart in three-point field-goal percentage (.447) behind Shane Power (.481 in 2003-04).
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a few quiet games, Mississippi State broke out the bats, pounding out 15 hits in a 7-0 victory over Samford. It was the most hits Samford has allowed all year.
MSU (15-8) put two runners on base in each of the first two innings, but could not bring them home. The Bulldogs, however, broke through in the third. Nakita Boyce and Hayle Guess led off with singles. One out later, Jessie Bailey singled to left field, scoring Guess. Lindsey Hunley then drove in Courtney Bures, and MSU had a 2-0 lead after three.
State broke it open in the fourth. With two outs and Rachel Hurley on second, Nakita Boyce singled. Hurley headed for home, but the throw beat her. However, Samford catcher Tracey Deaux was called for obstruction, and the run counted. Guess then sent a single through the right center, plating Boyce. Bures then sent a shot up the middle that glanced off pitcher Susanna Meyer's glove, driving in Guess. Jessie Bailey followed with a single of her own, placing runners at the corners. Lindsey Hunley brought them both home, doubling to the left center field wall, capping the scoring.
"The first couple innings, we left runners on base, but then we broke it open," said MSU head coach Jay Miller. "We got some kids some at-bats that needed it. It's nice to see the bottom of the order come through. Blair (Hewett) had a couple of really nice hits. Through the order, I thought we hit pretty good. Kelli (Miller) threw real well. I thought it was a good game overall, and a good warm-up to start the conference season."
Nakita Boyce and Hayle Guess each had three hits and an RBI. Lindsay Hurley pitched in with three RBI.
Kelli Miller threw six innings of solid ball, striking out four. Through the first four innings, the senior allowed just one runner to reach, and just three hits overall. Sara Hickerson came in to close out in the seventh.
Mississippi State returns to action this weekend, as they open conference play at No. 3 Alabama. The teams play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m., and then close the series with a single game at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.