News from MSU Media Relations--January 24

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

Men's Basketballl
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Suffering its first loss of the new year last Wednesday at LSU, Mississippi State travels to Georgia on Saturday in hopes of returning to its winning ways that propelled this youthful squad to the top of the Western Division standings.

Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2, with Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes serving as the TV talent.

Prior to the setback in Baton Rouge, the Bulldogs (13-6, 3-1) had won five in a row. Now, MSU visits a place it's struggled at in recent years, Stegeman Coliseum. In its last six visits, State has fallen short five times, including its last outing in February of 2007, 86-73.

These two teams met twice last year, with MSU claiming a 60-49 victory at Humphrey Coliseum in the regular season. However, UGA stunned the Bulldogs 64-60 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta before knocking off Arkansas to take the championship.

Overall, this has been a closely contested series, which stands tied at 49-apiece. In fact, Georgia is one of three SEC teams MSU doesn't have a losing record against, along with Ole Miss (133-104) and South Carolina (11-8).

The visiting Bulldogs invade Georgia led in scoring (12.9) and rebounding (9.3) by junior forward Jarvis Varnado, who also leads the nation with 93 blocked shots. The homestanding Bulldogs are paced by Terrance Woodbury's 13.4 scoring clip.

Next up for Mississippi State is in-state rival Ole Miss on Jan. 31 in Starkville following an open date on Wednesday.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Enthusiasm for the upcoming baseball season is translating into big numbers at the Mississippi State University Athletic Department ticket office.

With nearly four weeks remaining before the Bulldogs' season-opening competition in the BankFirst Baseball Challenge, the MSU ticket office reports total season ticket sales of 4,765 through January 23. MSU is nearing its eighth consecutive 5,000-plus season ticket sales campaign and could top the school-record baseball season ticket sales mark of 5,596 set in 2002.

The 32-game season ticket package is on sale through the MSU Athletic Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building and online at www.MStateAthletics.com.

The Bulldogs launch the John Cohen coaching era at Mississippi State and the program's 119th season of baseball competition Feb. 20-22 when State entertains North Florida and Northern Illinois in the inaugural BankFirst Baseball Challenge at Dudy Noble Field. The Challenge features six games over a three-day span.

Cohen, an All-SEC outfielder during his three-year career as a player at Mississippi State, was introduced as MSU's 16th head baseball coach in June. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native served as head coach the past five seasons at the University of Kentucky, guiding the Wildcats to school-best 44-win seasons in both 2006 and 2008. He will be the featured speaker at the 12th annual "First Pitch/Meet the Team" MSU baseball celebration Feb. 19. Tickets for the event cost $30 and are on sale now through the MSU Athletic ticket Office.


Women's Tennis
LUBBOCK, Texas, - Eager to begin the 2009 season, the Mississippi State women's tennis team squares off with two opponents from the state of Texas this weekend at Texas Tech's McLeod Tennis facility. State will begin play on Saturday against North Texas at Noon CT, followed by a matchup with Texas Tech on Sunday at 10 a.m. CT.

MSU comes into the 2009 season with a team full of experience mixed with talented newcomers. Seniors Martina Banikova, Elna de Villiers and Daniela Juskova are the three leaders on the team, followed by three returning players in Radka Fernacova, Elizabeth Hall and Valeriya Makarycheva. De Villiers begins her fourth and final year with the Lady Bulldogs, needing just two wins to move into 14th place all time in career singles wins at Mississippi State.

These six returning players will be joined by talented rookies Natalia Mayuk, Olesya Tsigvintseva and Jordan Zachary. During the fall campaign, Mayuk and Tsigvintseva combined for 14 wins in singles play, giving the Lady Bulldogs some added depth in the lineup.

In the first match of the weekend, MSU will square off with North Texas. The Mean Green are already 2-0 on the year with wins over Tulane and New Orleans this past weekend. The match between the Lady Bulldogs and Mean Green will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Following the matchup with North Texas, State sets its sights on Texas Tech Sunday. Scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT, it will mark the second time the two teams have met. State won the last match between the two in 2006, with a 4-2 triumph in Starkville.

Following this weekend's matches in the Lone Star State, the Lady Bulldogs return home for their first match of the season at A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre against Louisiana-Monroe Saturday, Jan. 31. Start time for that contest is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.


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