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  • Scruff_McGruff_ 11:33 PM on March 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Florida, Georgia Dome, , , , , , , , SEC Tournament, Southeastern Conference,   

    MSU SEC Tourney Preview 

    Mississippi State did exactly what it needed to do: survive the SEC schedule and earn a first-round bye in this week’s SEC Tournament. That result is not good enough for some as MSU was chosen in the preseason to win the SEC West. That prediction was made based on the potential of this year’s squad. Would Renardo Sidney play like the McDonald’s All-American he was in high school? How would the team perform when Dee Bost returned from suspension? When it was all said and done, MSU finished 9-7 in conference, three games behind division winner Alabama. MSU played to its potential at times but also underperformed at critical moments this year. Losses to SEC West cellar dwellers Auburn and LSU put a sour taste in the mouths of the Bulldog faithful. However, the Bulldogs responded with wins against SEC champion Florida and won at Thompson-Boling Arena against Tennessee in Jack Cristil’s last radio broadcast as the voice of Mississippi State athletics. A lot of people are critical of Rick Stansbury when it comes to coaching, but he seems to shine during the SEC Tournament. As head coach, he has two championship trophies and two more finals appearances since taking over from Richard Williams in 1998. If history happens to repeat itself, MSU won’t win its quarterfinal game against the LSU/Vanderbilt winner. In 2002, MSU won the tourney, lost in the finals in 2003 and was bounced in the quarterfinals (with a first-round bye) in 2004. MSU won the tourney in 2009 and lost in the finals last season. However, the field could not have shaped up any better for the Bulldogs.

    The Bulldogs play its first game Friday against the LSU/Vanderbilt winner. MSU split the season series with the Tigers, but one bounce here and there could have turned the two matchups into sweeps in either team’s favor. MSU lost its only meeting with the Commodores this year, but was very much in the game. They made some crucial mistakes in the final minutes and let a winnable game slip from their fingers. Last year MSU proved that they could lose to Vandy mid-season and beat them when it matters most: in the SEC Tourney. It seems like a possibility again this season.

    On the other half of MSU’s bracket sit three reams that MSU is a combined 4-0 this season. The Bulldogs swept the Razorbacks, defeated Tennessee on the road and upset the ranked Gators in Starkville. If the Bulldogs can play up to their full potential and get Sidney plenty of rest, MSU can cruise into the finals for a third straight year. Will it be that easy? Of course not, MSU has made the incredibly easy look impossible in athletics since 1878. But working in MSU’s favor is two seniors who have been on the wrong side of Stansbury. However, they have learned from the error of their ways and embraced their roles on the team. The result is Kodi Augustus averaging career-highs in points and rebounds and a rejuvenated Ravern Johnson after his suspension and benching. The national media (Andy Katz and Pat Forde in particular) may not like how Rick has handled this season, but he’s done wonders with the hand he was dealt and has his team in position to win two SEC Tourney titles in three years. The ride to this position has not been a smooth one, but the roads have settled. Stansbury and crew seem to make magic every SEC Tournament, and this year’s field is set for MSU to make more magic.

     
  • Scruff_McGruff_ 2:14 AM on March 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Florida, , , , , , , , ,   

    2010 SEC Tournament Preview 

    The 2010 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off in less than 12 hours. Will Kentucky add a tournament championship to its regular-season championship? Will Mississippi State repeat? Will another team make it four games in four days for the third year in a row?

    First Round

    (E5) South Carolina vs. (W4) Alabama – The eastern division utterly dominated the west this season. I expect that trend to continue in the tournament. This game could be the rare exception. South Carolina goes how Devan Downey goes. When he is on, the Gamecocks can hang with any team in the conference, as evident by their win over Kentucky. Alabama will bring that defensive toughness that can get you far in the tourney. Will the Tide be able to slow down Downey? Winner: Alabama

    (W6) LSU vs. (E3) Tennessee – LSU was the worst team in the SEC this season. Bruce Pearl will turn up the defense in an attempt to put the game out of reach early. Trent Johnson will work a slow, methodical pace to hide his lack of depth. In the end, Tennessee wins easily. Winner: Tennessee

    (W5) Auburn vs. (E4) Florida – Auburn’s play is a bit unpredictable at times. It is a mystery which team will show up. Florida is not quite on the bubble, but they can’t afford to give the selection committee a reason to not put the Gators in the field of 65. Winner: Florida

    (E6) Georgia vs. (W3) Arkansas – Arkansas got off to a slow start but came around when Courtney Fortson joined the team. Georgia is the best 6-seed in the history of the tournament, even better than the 2008 team that won it all. They’ve beaten Tennessee, Illinois, and Georgia Tech. Arkansas cannot afford to bring anything less than 100%. Winner: Arkansas

    Quarterfinals

    (W4) Alabama vs. (E1) Kentucky – Kentucky is head-and-shoulders better than everyone on its side of the bracket except for Tennessee. John Calipari is in unfamiliar territory. The SEC tournament is a different kind of beast. He was able to dominate the Conference USA tournaments. He will get Alabama’s best shot but should be able to win convincingly if he keeps his freshman-laden team focused. Winner: Kentucky

    (E3) Tennessee vs. (W2) Ole Miss – Andy Kennedy has proven he can put talented teams on the court. He has not proven he can win when it counts, in conference play and in the conference tournament. Ole Miss has the talent to knock off Tennessee, but the Rebels lack the clutch in the coaching department to make a run for the tournament crown. Winner: Tennessee

    (E4) Florida vs. (W1) Mississippi State – Mississippi State showed it can play with every team in the SEC until the debacle on Senior Day against Tennessee. The Bulldogs lost to Florida by 9 in Gainesville. On a neutral site, MSU should be able to close that scoring gap and come away with a win. Winner: Mississippi State

    (W3) Arkansas vs. (E2) Vanderbilt – Kevin Stallings, 2010 SEC Coach of the Year, has done a masterful job with a Vanderbilt team that did not make the NCAA Tournament last season. He took the same squad, and in one year’s time, turned them into a true threat to make a deep run in the Big Dance. Arkansas can score, but will they be able to be as efficient as Vandy? Winner: Vanderbilt

    Semifinals

    (E3) Tennessee vs. (E1) Kentucky – Kentucky will be looking to get some revenge from their last meeting, which Tennessee won. Each team won on its home floor. In a neutral-site game, I go with the team with more talent. That team is Kentucky. In addition to having more talent, UK will only have one game of fatigue on them as compared to UT’s two games. Winner: Kentucky

    (E2) Vanderbilt vs. (W1) Mississippi State – In their previous meeting, Mississippi State shot the ball horrendously from three, but still found a way to be in the game and lose by only three points. Barring foul troule and another poor shooting night, MSU should be able to come out on the winning end. Winner: Mississippi State

    Finals

    (W1) Mississippi State vs. (E1) Kentucky – It took overtime and some very questionable officiating for Kentucky to leave the Humphrey Coliseum with a win February 16. Neither team played their absolute best on that evening, but Kentucky was able to utilize its height and length advantage to out-block MSU. Kentucky is the better team overall, but the winner will be the better team for those 40 minutes. Winner: Kentucky

     
  • Scruff_McGruff_ 3:23 PM on February 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Florida, , , , ,   

    This Week in MSU Basketball 

    at Vanderbilt (16-4, 5-1) 2/3/10 @ 7pm (SEC Network)

    Last Season – W, 73-66 (in Starkville)

    Last MSU win in Nashville – February 28, 2004, 72-69

    Outside of Rupp Arena, Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium is the toughest place to play in the SEC. The design and the benches being on the baselines seem to rattle teams. The fact that Vanderbilt is usually unbeatable complicates things for opposing teams. Vandy has lost only four games at home dating back to the 2007-08 season. MSU had a chance to win in Nashville in that ’08 season, but Shan Foster decided to go into sniper mode and shoot the cover off the ball. I said earlier MSU would win at Vandy, and I still think they will. The shooters are coming out of a slump somewhat. The three is not falling as frequent as it has in earlier games this season, but with as many as they take they will make enough to stay in the game.

    The key for success, as always for the Bulldogs, is to keep turnovers to a minimum. In four of State’s five losses, they have lost the turnover battle. Jarvis Varnado has to put in more work than usual against Vandy, banging against 6-foot-11, 250 pound A.J. Ogilvy and his 6-11, 255 pound backup Festus Ezeli. Varnado has been able to contain Ogilvy in past match-ups, and neither Ogilvy nor Ezeli will be dominant factors if Varnado can stay out of foul trouble. Stansbury has been playing Kodi Augustus at center for a little bit trying to give Varnado some rest. Varnado is averaging 30 minutes-per-game and has logged over 32 minutes in every conference game. Barry Stewart will defend John Jenkins or Jeffrey Taylor, both averaging over 10 PPG. Stewart has done a great job defending the other team’s go-to guards this season.

    at Florida (15-6, 4-3) 2/6/10 @ 12:30 pm (SEC Network)

    Last Season – W, 80-71 (in Starkville)

    Last MSU win in Gainesville – March 1, 2008, 68-59

    Just like Mississippi State, Florida has been hard to figure out this season. The Gators have the marquee win over Michigan State at a neutral site, but needed a hail mary to beat a North Carolina State team that is near the bottom of the ACC and lost to South Alabama at home and Richmond. I said MSU would lose to Florida, but it depends on which MSU team decides to show up to the O’Connell Center. Florida’s three SEC losses are from teams ahead of them in the standings: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Their wins are against Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and LSU, teams MSU has beaten at least once with the exception of South Carolina. So if MSU plays like the team it is fully capable of, winning this game should not be an issue. But if the Dogs cannot put together the complete effort: shooting, defense, rebounding, and more importantly not letting one player take over a game, expect a loss to the Gators.

    The Gators are led by two outstanding young guards, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. Boynton leads the team in scoring and is second in assists. Walker is second in scoring and first in assists. They have length inside with Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons.  Augustus is the best player on the team when he is on his game, but Ravern Johnson is built to pose a match-up problem for Florida. He can shoot over the short guards and can put the ball on the floor past the taller but slower forwards. He’s been in a three-point shooting slump as of late, but he has found other ways to score. His added versatility makes him that much harder to defend, especially when he is hot from behind the arc. Varnado is always going to find a way to get his points, whether it is from the free throw line, grabbing loose rebounds or having an efficient post offense. MSU needs more quality wins if they are to make Selection Sunday a little less nerve racking. This week is the perfect week to do that.

     
  • maroonnation 12:23 AM on November 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Florida, ,   

    We’ll All Stick Together for F-L-O-R-I-D-A 

    By: D.L. Brown

    Let me begin by saying this. I want to make this clear so that no one is confused or tries to challenge what I am saying by questioning my level of bias. I am not a Florida Gator hater – or a Gator Hater – or whatever you want to call it. There is only one program in the Southeastern Conference that has truly earned my hate and that is TSUN (That School Up North) AKA scUM AKA Mississippi. I am indifferent when it comes to Florida. They sit in a state loaded with talent and have a budget the size of the GDP of two-thirds of the developing countries in the world. They are a definite ‘Have’ in the world of college sports.  They do not need any advantages other than the ones they have established on their own.

    That is why what has transpired over the last few weeks on the SEC college football landscape has been so disappointing. The SEC has so much pride invested in excellence. The teams in the conference do well. There is no doubting that. What people are beginning to doubt is the ideal of the equal playing field. What makes me say that?

    florida truck

    Pasadena or Bust?

    Seeing  an Arkansas team busting their butts in “The Swamp” going toe-to-toe with the Gators, only to have a phantom flag fly in from 40 yards down field to put UF in position to win the game makes me say that.

    Seeing a Mississippi State team fighting with all their might to stay with the Gators only to have video evidence confirm that the officials are not going to take the necessary time to get a crucial call right makes me say that.

    Seeing a player stupidly attempt to gouge the eyes out of another football player have his behavior validated by only suspending him for two quarters against the worst team in the conference and to have that suspension approved by the conference makes me say that.

    I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I do not believe you can get more than one person in a room with some information and expect to keep that information secret.  People are saying that the SEC is doing everything it can to make sure Florida and Alabama remain undefeated going into what would be a massive SEC Championship tilt. I do not believe that.

    What I do believe is that a conference that once had the ability to claim excellence has lost that ability. You have a conference that would suspend and fine coaches for criticizing incompetence, yet deliver a slap on the wrist to a player who intentionally threatened the quality of life of another player. I am not lost on the mixed – rather duplicitous message – that sends. You choose to hold people to the standards less damning for your own interests. That is what I am left to take from that.

    Brandon Spikes earned the right to sit down for at least one game for his actions on the field.  The SEC and the Florida Gators are complacent to his behavior and have set a dangerous precedent for an already violent sport. Spikes would probably not be missed in the upcoming matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores. That would have been a good opportunity to sit his reckless behind on the bench for a game that the Gators will probably win handily. Instead we are left with more controversy over an issue that could have been settled had a conference and an institution that claims excellence acted with excellence. I can only wonder what this would look like had Brandon Spikes been wearing maroon and white instead of orange and blue. Hopefully, that is just the cynic in me coming out, but this cynic has seen one too many suspect decisions to give me what I would consider indisputable evidence. I am beginning to think that Mike Slive is swaying to: “We are the Boys from Old Florida.”

     
    • gatorchomp83 1:44 PM on November 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Mike Slive, and the entire SEC, is Bammer all the way.

      Hell, the offices are located in Alabama. Bammer has gotten the benefit of the doubt for the entire duration the SEC has been around.

      The MissSt call was terrible. But even Ealey has come out and said HE doesn’t think Spikes should be suspended, and HE was the “victim.”

      I see it as karma swinging back in our favor. We got screwed by the SEC at Auburn in ’06 and at Tennessee in ’04. There are plenty other instances, but you could say we’ve “broken even” now.

  • maroonnation 7:50 PM on October 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Florida, , ,   

    Cowbells=Gator Repellent? 

    By: The Punter

    The friendly, or in this case unfriendly, confines of Davis-Wade Stadium have not been kind to the University of Florida. In fact, the last time the Gators won in Starkville this writer wasn’t even born. I said hello to the world on February 10, 1986. The Gators last win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Stark Vegas? September 28, 1985. Florida would win 36-22 on that day. Since then four different Gator teams have made the trip up from Gainesville. All four have returned home in defeat. In 1986 the Bulldogs fought for a hard 16-10 win. In 1992 the Gators were pummelled 30-6 at the hands of Jackie Sherrill’s Dawgs.

      

    Dan Mullen hopes to keep streak alive versus his former team.

    Dan Mullen hopes to keep streak alive versus his former team.

    In 2000 the Gators came to Starkville as the #3 team in the nation. Dicenzo Miller would rush for a touchdown and 172 yards for the unranked Bulldogs enroute to a 45-37 upset of the Gators. The Dawgs got offensive under the lead of quarterback Wayne Madkin that day, going for 351 on the ground and 517 total yards. The win for Mississippi State ended a 72 game winning streak that Florida held over unranked opponents. It currently claims 51% of the vote in our poll of fans favorite win over Florida.

    The 2004 Gators were ranked #19 when they made the haul. First year Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom and his boys weren’t given much of a chance. Like the three previous trips, this one would end in defeat for the Gators- 38-31. Jerious Norwood would rip off a fine run with under a minute remaining in the game to seal the deal after Jeramie Johnson had intercepted Chris Leak to give the Dawgs the ball back. The win, only the second of the season for MSU, sent the Gators out of the polls.

    Now, here we are. On Saturday the Gators, defending National Champions, will invade Davis-Wade Stadium. Standing room only tickets went on sale and abruptly sold out as Bulldog fans snatched them up. A record number of Maroon and White faithful are expected to fill, almost literally, the nation’s second oldest on campus college football stadium. Some just want to be able to say that they saw Tim Tebow, possibly the greatest college football player of all time, play in person. Many, many others though believe that first year head coach Dan Mullen, who left Florida as the offensive coordinator to take the MSU job, will field a team that can not only compete with the #1 ranked Gators but continue the streak versus Florida at home.

    The Bulldogs will have to have a lot of things go their way on Saturday if they are to stretch the streak to five. The game will be nationally televised in primetime on ESPN, which brings Florida alum Erin Andrews to town. Can the student out battle the teacher? Is the MSU defense Superman’s kryptonite? Both valid questions, but my big question is: are the legendary cowbells of Mississippi State really Gator repellent? We’ll find out Saturday night. One thing is certain. The maroon clad packed house will be rocking to the sound of cowbells from the time the Dawgs take the field until the final blow of the horn. Win or lose.

    – Feel free to comment below, or email me @ punterjoe@hotmail.com

     
    • jdanteb 9:06 PM on October 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      We were destined to bleed maroon and white together since we share the same birthday. If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we can definitely win this game. Florida’s offense look atrocious against a horrible Arkansas D. If not for some bad calls Florida loses that game. It’s definitely winnable.

  • maroonnation 1:28 AM on October 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Florida, , Starkville   

    What Happens in StarkVegas … 

     
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