News from MSU Media Relations--February 2

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Track & Field, Women's Tennis and Men's Basketball.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sophomore LaQuinta Aaron bested 10 other competitors and tallied 3,444 points to become the LSU Pentathlon champion at the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse in Baton Rouge, La. Junior Dorothy Youmans finished in fourth place with 3,117 points.

"We made some technical breakthroughs today," said assistant coach Bryan Fetzer. "We have a long ways to go, but I am very pleased with how we performed today. LaQuinta (Aaron) and Dorothy (Youmans) are both starting to grasp the concepts in the field events. This will allow them both to do some great things down the line."

Aaron finished first in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.80. With her time, the Tuscaloosa, Ala-native becomes the newest member of the all-time list in the 60-meter hurdles. Youmans finished in fifth. Aaron came in second place in the shot put with personal-record 36 feet, five inches and three-fourth inches. Youmans followed in fifth place, throwing 31 feet.

Aaron clinched her second first place finish with her 18-07.25 jump in the long jump portion of the event. After trailing Juzil Rudolph of Troy by 157 points heading into the final event of the evening, Aaron clinched the title with a third-place finish in the 800 meters while Rudolph placed ninth.

Aaron and Youmans and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs continue action at the Rob McCravy Memorial Track and Field meet tomorrow with action beginning at 6 p.m. with the weight throw. Livestats of both days' events can be followed on

Other teams competing in the Rob McCravy Memorial Track and Field meet are Alabama (men only), Eastern Kentucky, Florida, Georgia State (women only), Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (OH), Middle Tennessee, Ohio State (men only), Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Christian, Texas A&M and Western Kentucky.

Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Lady Bulldog tennis team opens up its 2008 campaign with an eight-match homestand that will see the MSU at home until March. State hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre to begin that stretch. The match with ULL's Ragin Cajuns is set for 11 a.m.

MSU began its spring at the Georgia Invitational Jan. 18-20, where #67 Renée Joseph and Elna de Villiers led the squad with two singles wins each at the event. Valeriya Makarycheva enters the spring dual match season with a team-best doubles record of 9-6. Pairing with de Villiers, the duo holds a 4-2 record.

"We got the good start we were looking for in Athens," commented head coach Tracy Lane. "Now we have to look to stay competitive and stay healthy."

The match versus Louisiana-Lafayette will serve as the 17th meeting between the two schools. Mississippi State holds a commanding 15-1 record while posting an unblemished 4-0 mark in matches played in Starkville. ULL enters the weekend with a record of 1-0 after defeating Grambling State in their season opener 7-0.

Following this weekend's action, the Lady Bulldogs will continue the homestand hosting Rice [Feb. 8, 2 p.m.] and Louisiana-Monroe [Feb. 9, 1 p.m.] at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Looking to bounce back from their first defeat since Dec. 15, the 25th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-6, 5-1) begin a two-game homestand by first playing host to the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers (18-2, 5-1) Saturday evening on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for this key early-season, inter-divisional matchup is set for 6 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum.

The 111th all-time series renewal between the Dogs and Vols will be televised live by FSN South/SUN Sports with Bob Rathbun handling the play-by-play duties and former South Carolina/Vanderbilt head coach Eddie Fogler providing the color analysis. The contest can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio Channels 201 and 231.

After having their nine-game overall winning streak and five-game SEC win string snapped with Wednesday's 78-58 setback at Arkansas, coach Rick Stansbury's 14-6 Bulldogs will bid to keep alive their seven-game SEC home win streak that dates back to last February. Along with looking for the team's first win over a top 10-ranked team since beating No. 5 Oklahoma, 54-45, at the 2002 Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans, MSU is also searching for its first home triumph over a top 10 club since knocking off both No. 5 Alabama and sixth-ranked Kentucky during the 2001-02 campaign. Now with a 10-year head coaching mark of 199-110 (.644), Stansbury remains one victory shy of becoming the 20th all-time member of the SEC's 200-win club.

Having recently been selected as a midseason top 30 candidate for the John R. Wooden Award as well as being named as one of 16 national finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, junior all-America candidate Jamont Gordon continues to be State's offensive catalyst while averaging 17.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game on the year. Veteran all-SEC teammate Charles Rhodes maintains his role as the team's top inside threat by contributing 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds an outing. Sophomore Jarvis Varnado, the nation's top-ranked shot-blocker, is just six rejects away from breaking Erick Dampier's all-time, single-season school standard of 106 blocks set in 1995-96. Along with Gordon (Nashville) and Varnado (Brownsville), sophomore guard Barry Stewart (Shelbyville) gives MSU three starters hailing from the Volunteer State of Tennessee.

Ranked seventh in this week's AP Top 25 and eighth in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, Tennessee owns an 18-2 overall record and 5-1 SEC mark after claiming a 93-86 win at Alabama this past Tuesday. Guided by third-year head coach Bruce Pearl, UT's lone losses on the year have come at Kentucky and to Texas at the Legends Classic in Newark, N.J. Reigning AP SEC Player of the Year Chris Lofton and fellow senior guard JaJuan Smith pace the Vols' potent offensive attack in averaging 15.0 and 14.4 points per game, respectively, and combining for 117 made treys on the season. Sophomore forward Tyler Smith adds 13.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game for the SEC's top-rated offensive team (84.9 ppg). The Volunteers also lead the conference in three-point field-goal percentage defense (.283), assists (19.85 apg), steals (10.80 spg), turnover margin (+7.35) and assist/turnover ratio (1.53).

Having evenly split the last 18 head-to-head meetings with Tennessee since the SEC went to divisional play in 1991-92, the Bulldogs will be looking to avenge their largest home setback of the Stansbury era (88-65 home loss to UT two years ago) when the Vols visit Starkville on Saturday.

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