News from MSU Media Relations--February 1

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Basketball and Softball.

Men's Basketball
January 31 - ESPN Regional Television, in conjunction with the BIG EAST Conference and the Southeastern Conference, announced today the eight men's college basketball teams that will represent the two conferences in the second annual SEC/BIG EAST Invitational.

The 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, an ERT owned and operated event that features four games over two nights, will be played Dec. 16 at Nashville's Sommet Center and Dec. 18 at Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2. The annual event matches four teams from the BIG EAST Conference against four teams from the Southeastern Conference.

Tennessee, presently ranked #8 nationally, #18 Vanderbilt, #22 Ole Miss and #25 Mississippi State will represent the SEC, while #16 Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida will represent the BIG EAST.

On Dec. 16 in Nashville, Vanderbilt will face South Florida while Marquette squares off with Tennessee. On Dec. 18 in Cincinnati, Mississippi State will face Cincinnati and Ole Miss will play Louisville.

"The Southeastern Conference is pleased to partner with the BIG EAST and ESPN on this annual event to provide two nights of exciting nonconference matchups in December," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "Fans in Nashville and Cincinnati, along with a national television audience, will have an opportunity to watch four SEC teams currently ranked in the top 25."

The BIG EAST and SEC have combined to produce four of the last five NCAA Men's Basketball Champions (Florida - 2007 and 2006, UConn - 2004, Syracuse - 2003) and seven of the last 12 national champions (UConn - 1999, Kentucky - 1998 and 1996).

"The BIG EAST is excited to participate again with the SEC and ESPN in this annual event," BIG EAST Commissioner Michael Tranghese said. "The two doubleheaders played at great venues in Cincinnati and Nashville will provide fans with some very exciting college basketball in December."

In 2007, the SEC qualified five teams for the NCAA Tournament, with Florida capturing the national championship for the second straight season, and Tennessee and Vanderbilt finishing in the Sweet 16. The BIG EAST placed six teams in the Tournament, with Georgetown advancing to the Final Four. Two seasons ago, the BIG EAST sent a record eight teams to the NCAAs.

"We're pleased with how this event continues to grow," said Clint Overby, Senior Director of Events, ESPN Regional Television. "Both leagues, along with ESPN, have worked to create matchups in locations where we believe we can be successful."

Teams invited to participate in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.

"It is a privilege to host this great ESPN basketball event at U.S. Bank Arena," said Arena GM Kristin Ropp. "Featuring two great programs from the Big East and the SEC should prove to make for a memorable day of basketball in Cincinnati."

"On behalf of the Nashville Sports Council, we are excited to host the 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at the Sommet Center," said Scott Ramsey, president and CEO of the Nashville venue. "We are confident that Music City will provide an exciting atmosphere for the players, coaches and fans of Tennessee, Marquette, Vanderbilt and South Florida."

In the 2007 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, Villanova, then ranked No. 21, converted a four-point play and scored 13 points in the final three minutes, overcoming a 21-point deficit and beating LSU 68-67 in Philadelphia. South Carolina beat Providence by the same margin, 68-67, in the opener in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Ala., Georgetown topped Alabama 70-60, and West Virginia beat Auburn 88-59.

Tickets for the 2008 SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are expected to go on sale in late summer.

For more information, visit or, home of ESPN Regional Television.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State junior all-America candidate Jamont Gordon has been named as one of 16 national finalists for the 2008 Bob Cousy Award presented by The Hartford, an honor presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point guard. The announcement was made Thursday by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame located in Springfield, Mass.

The 16 national finalists were chosen from a pool of over 60 top candidates from NCAA Division I, II and III institutions across the country. This year's finalists were selected by screening committees comprised of members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) representing all three divisions of collegiate basketball.

A native of Nashville, Gordon currently ranks fifth in the SEC in scoring (17.9 ppg), sixth in assists (4.2 apg) and 15th in rebounding (6.2 rpg) for all games. In conference action, he stands tied for sixth in scoring (18.8 ppg), seventh in both three-point field-goal percentage (.417) and made 3-pointers per SEC game (2.50/gm), and 10th in field-goal percentage (.506).

Averaging 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per outing while having started all 85 games of his Mississippi State career, Gordon presently stands 10th on the school's all-time scoring chart with 1,332 career points, fifth with 400 career assists and 18th with 576 career rebounds. The two-time all-SEC standout has scored in double figures in 76 of 85 career MSU outings, including 20 games of 20 or more points (nine this season).

Having also been recently named to the top 30 midseason candidate listing of the prestigious John R. Wooden Award, Gordon is joined among this year's Bob Cousy Award nominees by South Carolina's Devan Downey as the SEC's lone pair of candidates. Also among this year's NCAA Division I finalists are DJ Augustin (Texas), Darren Collison (UCLA), Mike Green (Butler), Dominic James (Marquette), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Eric Maynor (VCU), Tyrese Rice (Boston College), Brian Roberts (Dayton), Derrick Rose (Memphis), and Sean Singletary (Virginia).

College basketball fans nationwide will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite candidate online at The top vote-getter from the online poll will receive the "fan vote", representing one vote to be cast by the Blue Ribbon committee selecting the award winner. The Blue Ribbon committee is comprised of Hall of Famers, including Bob Cousy, Dean Smith and Jim Calhoun, as well as college coaches from Divisions I, II and III, members of the media, and additional college basketball experts and celebrities.

The 2008 Bob Cousy Award presented by The Hartford winner will be announced at the NCAA Men's Final Four in San Antonio, Texas on Monday, April 7.

Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award include Acie Law IV of Texas A&M (2007), Dee Brown from Illinois (2006), Raymond Felton of North Carolina (2005), and Jameer Nelson from Saint Joseph's (2004).

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State was picked to finish third in the Western Division by Southeastern Conference coaches, the league announced Thursday.

The Bulldogs received 33 points to sit behind Alabama, who was selected to win the overall title, and LSU. Auburn was selected to finish fourth in the West, followed by Mississippi and Arkansas.

The SEC coaches selected Florida as the favorite in the Eastern Division, with Tennessee coming in second ahead of Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

Points for the poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5 bases for the Eastern Division and a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

MState, who is receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFCA and Softball preseason top 25 rankings, opens the 2008 campaign Feb. 8-10 at the Cathedral City Kickoff in Cathedral City, Calif. The Bulldogs open the tournament Feb. 8 with 20th-ranked Oregon at 2:30 p.m. and Cal State Northridge at 5 p.m. State will face UC Riverside and San Diego State at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively, on Feb. 9 before closing out the season-opening tournament against California at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10. All game times are CST.

The Bulldogs, under sixth year head coach Jay Miller, return 11 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished 35-27 and earned the school's fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five seasons and sixth overall.

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