Friday, January 18, 2019  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State updates Maroon Alert, schedules Friday test
The Mississippi State University community will now be better informed during times of crisis with updates to the university's Maroon Alert system. The updates will allow the university to deliver updates more quickly across more platforms. The first of these is an app, which any alert will go to at the same time it goes to users' text messages. Users in the Maroon Alert system will now have to respond to the alerts. If the user does not respond to the text and the alert in the app, they will receive a phone call. Other updates to the system include faster delivery speeds, personalized weather notification and community messages. Those without the app will receive a SMS text. A test of the new system is scheduled for noon today, and is scheduled to conclude by 12:10 p.m. "These new features are going to help us make sure people are getting the message," said MSU Emergency Manager Brent Crocker.
 
Golden Triangle gears up for day of service
On Monday at The Mill in Starkville, about 400 volunteers are registered with Volunteer Starkville and Maroon Volunteer Center for various MLK Day of Service projects. Meggan Franks, interim director of student services and community outreach at Mississippi State, said MVC has gathered more than 20 organizations where volunteers will be deployed. Projects will include sorting laundry at Palmer Home and donations at the Salvation Army, beautifying parks and spending time with residents at assisted living facilities. "It's exciting to see how many people want to give back," Franks said. "It's a great family friendly event to celebrate Martin Luther King and his legacy."
 
Mississippi State research opportunity opens for EMCC students
Science students at East Mississippi Community College will soon have the opportunity to participate in research at Mississippi State University through a National Institutes of Health grant. The Bridges to Baccalaureate program will select 10 EMCC students majoring in STEM fields to participate in research in behavioral and biological sciences at MSU. The $1.1 million NIH Research Education Program grant will allow students to work in MSU labs while being paid a competitive rate for 10 weeks during the summer. As the program continues, up to 20 students per year may be allowed to participate. "It's called a REU, which is a research experience for undergraduates," said MSU assistant professor of biochemistry Jonas King, the grant's principal investigator. "There's other opportunities for that at Mississippi State. Two other tracks, but this is an REU funded by the NIH, and it's targeted toward helping promote diversity and help getting some students interested in biomedical and behavioral research."
 
EMCC, Mississippi State partnership to provide students research opportunities
Select East Mississippi Community College students will have the opportunity to earn money while conducting research at Mississippi State University labs thanks to a partnership between the two institutions of higher learning. Applications will be sought this spring for the "Bridges to Baccalaureate" program, which will provide paid summer internships to selected EMCC students transferring to MSU who are interested in a career in one of the STEM fields. EMCC sophomore Avery Bouchillon intends on applying for the internship. An Ethel native, Bouchillon is an EMCC softball player who plans to major in biological sciences at MSU with an eye to becoming a physician. "I could play softball somewhere if I tried really hard but I think I need to focus on becoming a doctor," Bouchillon said. "I would really like to become a brain surgeon. I am really interested in this internship and believe it would help me get some experience."
 
Library begins construction of new television studio
Mississippi State University Libraries is launching construction this month on a new digital, high-definition television studio capable of filming, editing and producing high quality digital media video projects. Located in Mitchell Memorial Library's second-floor Digital Media Center, the area also will include a One Button Studio and flexible classroom space and group study space, all available for reservation by departments, classes or study groups this fall. The addition is part of an ongoing Digital Media Center enhancement project funded by MaxxSouth Broadband, MSU's Office of the Provost, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication, Mitchell Memorial Library and others. MSU Associate Dean for University Libraries Stephen Cunetto said this new studio will be used by the Department of Communication's broadcasting program as its main facility for broadcasting courses. It also will be available to all students and faculty, with specialized training and staff assistance required in advance.
 
Starkville Area Arts Council opens summer scholarship application period
The Starkville Area Arts Council has opened applications for its annual summer scholarships program. SAAC, according to a press release from Executive Director John Bateman, is offering the scholarship for children who are 11-18 years old. The scholarships are geared toward helping with art-focused camps or summer programs. "It's not just visual arts," Bateman said. "It's performing arts. It's music, writing, it's literature." Last year, SAAC provided 18 summer scholarships, ranging from $85 to $450. This year, the organization has $9,000 available, which Bateman said is more than last year, thanks to a private donation. "This is one of my favorite programs that SAAC offers," Bateman said in the release. "I've worked with a large number of scholarship-making organizations. Most focus on collegiate scholarships. However, if we create access to art education at an earlier age, then we create greater long-term impact on the development of young minds and creative thinkers. This rare type of award allows our community to build a tremendous future resource."
 
Oktibbeha County moves ahead with bridge repair projects
Work will soon begin to repair two Oktibbeha County bridges that have been closed since late 2018. Supervisors approved bids, totaling about $320,000, to repair bridges on Mt. Olive and Self Creek roads. County Engineer Clyde Pritchard said the bridges have been closed since about Thanksgiving when structural deficiencies were found during regular inspections. "They have deteriorated piling and a broken substructure," Pritchard said. "This work will install new steel piling and replace bridge components." District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller, who shares jurisdiction of Mt. Olive Road with District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, said the county will repair the roads in the Grand Oaks subdivision. The subdivision is near the closed portion of Mt. Olive Road, and Miller said motorists have used it as an alternate route while the road is closed.
 
Nissan to cut up to 700 contract workers in Mississippi
Nissan Motor Co. announced Thursday that it's cutting up to 700 contract workers at its Mississippi assembly plant, citing slowing sales for vans and Titan pickup trucks that it makes there. The move follows Nissan's December announcement that it's cutting 1,000 jobs at two Mexican factories. Reports in May indicated the Japanese automaker would cut production by up to 20 percent in North America, citing low profits. Nissan has 6,400 direct employees and contract workers who labor side-by-side on production lines in Canton, Mississippi, just north of Jackson. The company has long prided itself on a no-layoff pledge for its direct employees in Canton, and Love-Carter said any affected direct employees would be moved to new jobs. But that doesn't apply to contract workers, who were cut sharply during the recession.
 
Mississippi Department of Revenue deletes Robert E. Lee tweet after backlash
Following a barrage of negative responses, the Mississippi Department of Revenue deleted a tweet Thursday about Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday. The agency posted a tweeted saying it would be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day and the birthday of the Confederate general. "In honor of General Robert E. Lee's birthday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be closed on Monday, January 21," the department tweeted. About 500 people commented on the tweet within an hour and a half of its posting. While many Twitter users were upset the state agency paired a civil rights martyr with a general who fought to uphold slavery, Lee's birthday is a state holiday in Mississippi.
 
Mississippi Senate transportation chair runs for transportation commissioner
A Democrat who has served in the Mississippi Senate since 1993 says he's running for transportation commissioner and wants to put more money into highways and bridges. Sen. Willie Simmons of Cleveland is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Several legislative colleagues, including Republican Sens. Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg and Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula, stood with Simmons as he announced for commissioner Thursday. The central district commissioner the past 20 years, Republican Dick Hall of Brandon, is not seeking re-election.
 
Local legislators support teacher pay raises
The state Legislature convened on Jan. 8 and Sen. Jenifer Branning said she plans to continue fighting for Neshoba County's conservative values during this session. Branning, a Republican who is running for re-election, said her goals are to focus on better roads and infrastructure and economic development. Some state lawmakers have called for reforms to the criminal justice system and Branning, a lawyer, said she believes the reforms "warrant serious consideration." "The effort that's being brought forward is for non-violent offenders to enter into the workforce to be a productive taxpaying individual," Branning said. "But, I do not support reform for violent offenders." Branning also said she plans to look at how the state can provide a pay raise to public educators while being fiscally responsible.
 
Prison reforms target contraband, conjugal visits, drones and guard pay
In recent weeks, state leaders have hinted at a set of criminal-justice reforms that will be introduced this legislative session, a package that could include revising lengthy prison sentences and adding ways to expunge prior criminal records. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is pushing for conservative lawmakers to support broad changes across the state's justice system, citing the passage of the federal First Step Act, which President Donald Trump signed in December. The House and Senate corrections committees will hold a joint hearing on Monday to discuss more details on priorities of the legislative leadership, which could include measures that make it easier for people leaving prison to return and front-end reforms like making drug courts more affordable. In the last five years, Mississippi lawmakers have passed two rounds of criminal justice reforms aimed at cutting the state's prison population and associated costs.
 
Mississippi May Mandate Ten Commandments and Pledges to State, U.S. Flags in Schools
Mississippi law would require schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and see the Ten Commandments be displayed on public-school walls under new bills in the Legislature this session, requirements that may violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. One would also require Mississippi teachers to teach Mississippi's pledge glorifying the state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem in its canton. State Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, introduced House Bill 427, which would amend the Mississippi Constitution to mandate that public-school teachers and principals must display the Ten Commandments. It would require that school officials display the religious laws "on an appropriately framed background with minimum dimensions" of 11x14 inches in all classrooms, auditoriums, and cafeterias, alongside the motto, "In God We Trust." While Calhoun's bill does not suggest a fine for non-compliance, another a bill authored by State Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, would impose a fine.
 
Government shutdown leaves Mississippi's NASA employees, contractors without pay
NASA's name is on Stennis Space Center's front gate but nobody in the space agency is working inside its sprawling facility in Hancock County. NASA employees and their contractors haven't been on the payroll since the partial government shutdown began Dec. 22. Phone calls to offices go to voice mail and some parking lots are empty. The nearby Infinity Science Center, the official visitor center for Stennis, is open but bus tours of the space center are not running. Services such as the switchboard and security are still in place, supporting the 40 or so government agencies, aerospace industries and other companies located at the facility which has a total of about 5,000 employees. The uncertainty is wearing on those who are worried about their future. One furloughed employee was aware of a coworker resigning and expected more to follow. "We're just waiting. That's all we can do."
 
Mississippi graduation rates hit all-time high
On Thursday afternoon, the Mississippi Department of Education announced that the high school graduation rates for the 2017-18 school year reached an all-time high of 84 percent. The latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, which is from the 2015-16 school year, shows a national graduation rate of 84 percent. Mississippi's graduation rate has steadily climbed since the class of 2013, when it was 74.5 percent. During that same window of six school years, the dropout rate has dropped from 13.9 percent for the class of 2013 to 10.1 percent for the class of 2018. Statewide, female students (88.5 percent) had a higher graduation rate than males (79 percent). White students (87.7 percent) graduated at a higher rate than African-American students (80.7 percent) and Hispanic students (79.3 percent).
 
Mississippi graduation rate hits new record of 84 percent
Mississippi is graduating a greater share of its students in four years than ever before, with 84 percent of public high school seniors earning their diplomas on time last year, the Mississippi Department of Education said Thursday. State Superintendent Carey Wright called the increase "a significant achievement." She cited several reasons for the improvement, including efforts to expand career and technical education, the increase in the number of Advanced Placement courses and the rollout in some areas of early college high schools that offer dual high school and college credit. Although more students are persisting to graduation, it doesn't mean Mississippi has caught up with the rest of the nation educationally. The state has seen notable progress in some test score measures over the last decade, especially in earlier grades. But the most recent measures suggest Mississippi's eighth-graders remain roughly a year behind the national average in learning and its high school students have among the lowest average scores statewide on the ACT college test.
 
How Mississippi's financial aid programs reached a 'tipping point'
Although a significant information gap still exists for students who could benefit from the Higher Education Legislative Plan (HELP) grant but don't know about it, the Office of Student Financial Aid has been conducting a marketing campaign to help close it. Since 2013, the number of grants awarded has grown from 918 in FY 2013 to 2,912 in FY 2017. As the state's only need-based grant, HELP offers to cover tuition for students who are eligible. The growth of the HELP grant is just one of the factors that have brought state aid to a "tipping point," said Jennifer Rogers, director of student financial aid. "Unfortunately there's been no overall strategy for the creation of state aid programs in the state. So we have programs that were created 20 plus years ago that really have never been updated. And then we have programs that have been created in the last four or five years that really don't intersect or interplay well with programs that were created a long time ago," Rogers said.
 
USM ranked among nation's top universities in leading research
The University of Southern Mississippi is living up to its motto (Southern Miss to the top). The university is recognized as one of the nation's leading research institutions by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This classification indicates several things --- that we have a very high level of research activity, that we have a large number of faculty conducting research, and that we provide many resources for research here at USM, said USM President Rodney Bennet. "It also speaks to the high number of our research-based doctoral programs. These are all points of pride."
 
Beverly Hogan on Tougaloo College
Beverly Wade Hogan is the first woman and 13th president of Tougaloo College. Since Hogan became president in 2002, new undergraduate programs, a new honors program and three centers have been established at Tougaloo. The Northsider earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Tougaloo College and masters in public policy and administration from Jackson State University. She recently spoke with Northside Sun Staff Writer Nikki Rowell about the college's upcoming 150th year celebration.
 
New term for students, administrator: Deanna Smith leads MCC's Student Services
It's a new academic term and for Deanna Smith, that means a new work position. Smith is dean of student services for Meridian Community College; a position she filled when her predecessor Soraya Welden was named vice president of operations in the fall 2018 semester. "MCC has always felt like home to me," Smith said. An alumna of the College who as a student served as an assistant in the public relations department, it has been a work home for her. She counts nearly 11 years as an MCC'er. Here at MCC for three years before leaving the College to go to another alma mater -- Mississippi State University -- to work as a recruiter, Smith returned to MCC as director of advising and retention. When Welden's position opened, Smith knew she wanted to take a chance. "I felt like I had a lot of experience within the student services arena whether it was recruiting, retention, special population, the Honors College," she said.
 
Tim Tebow at Auburn University: 'Belief is so powerful'
College football analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow reflected Thursday night on the conflict he endured in 2005 when presented with the decision to pick either the University of Florida or the University of Alabama to attend and play football. He loved both schools, he explained to the audience, but ultimately it was the leadership at Florida, and how the coach made him believe in his abilities and in himself which led Tebow to pick Florida. "Belief is something so powerful that it can transform a life," Tebow said. Tebow's visit to Auburn was as part of a speaker series presented by Delta Air Lines at Auburn University's Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Each month, the series invites a successful leader in their field to discuss topics related to Emerge, a leadership program at Auburn University. Prior to Tebow's introduction, a panel of Delta Air Lines executives were invited to the stage to answer questions about leadership and Delta, such as good leadership qualities, what kind of leadership roles they have served and what they've learned over the years.
 
High-tech C-SPAN bus launches southern tour at U. of Tennessee, Knoxville schools
With 11 large tablets, a smart TV, a high-definition TV production studio and a panoramic video station, C-SPAN's classroom holds all the technology most educators dream of having for their students. It also boasts one more feature not found in the traditional classroom: Wheels. The media outlet's high-tech bus rolled through Knoxville on Thursday to launch its "Southern Swing" tour, making stops across several states to ask students, teachers, community members and elected officials one key question: What does it mean to be an American? The bus pulled into Fulton High School Thursday morning before crossing town to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. On Friday, it will make a stop at Central High School before cruising onto its next destination in Nashville. In addition to Tennessee, the 45-foot bus is traveling through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona over the course of eight weeks. Another key takeaway: C-SPAN is funded by the cable industry, not the government -- addressing a misconception among many people.
 
Speaker reflects on what drives democracy, movements at Texas A&M's annual MLK Jr. breakfast
An age and race-diverse crowd of just over 600 took notes, laughed, snapped along with slam poetry and sang Lift Every Voice And Sing together inside a Memorial Student Center ballroom on the Texas A&M University campus on Thursday morning for the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. Keynote speaker Maya Wiley, a professor, activist and racial justice policy expert based in New York City, weaved reflections on the civil rights movement with analysis of, and insight into, current movements for equality, particularly Black Lives Matter. Wiley stressed the importance of rooting activism in fact-based research, while also calling for people to not dismiss the importance of personal experience in justice work and advocacy. "Facts matter. You have to know what you're talking about," Wiley said. "You have to do the research -- but the research and the facts are not all in books. They're not all in research reports. If you do not understand the actual day-to-day experiences of the people you're trying to work with and help, you're gonna get it wrong."
 
Colleges respond as shutdown creates new cost issues for some students
The College of Southern Maryland is located about an hour's drive from Washington, and it's midway between two U.S. Navy bases. That means the area served by the community college is home to thousands of federal employees -- and the impact of the ongoing federal shutdown on its students is unavoidable, said Maureen Murphy, the college's president. The college is one of a handful of institutions that are offering emergency aid to students who are suddenly facing challenges paying for college because they or their parents are furloughed or not being paid. At the College of Southern Maryland, more than 100 students by last week had taken advantage of options such as deferred payment plans to deal with those unexpected challenges. "People believe this is primarily concentrated in the D.C. or Virginia area," said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at Wayne State University. "There are lots of federal offices all over the United States. People are being affected, and they didn't know to plan for this."
 
Liberty U. Senior Official Accepted Bag of Money for Helping Trump in Online Polls, Report Says
President Trump's former top lawyer paid Liberty University's chief information officer to manipulate online polls in an effort to raise Trump's profile before his successful presidential campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The news shows a deeper relationship than previously reported between the president and employees of the university, a private Christian institution located in Virginia and led by Jerry L. Falwell Jr., a prominent Trump ally. The Liberty technology administrator, John Gauger, also created a Twitter account, @WomenForCohen, to promote the president's lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to the Journal. "Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference," the account's description read on Thursday. Trump has delivered multiple speeches at Liberty in recent years, including at a 2017 commencement. An administrator and Liberty students also produced a film about a former firefighter who said he had heard God say that Trump would be the next president.
 
UNC, Michigan State show how partisan politics is infiltrating university governance
Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina became uncanny reflections of each other this week as the new culture wars claimed two casualties on campus in the form of ousted executives. On Monday, UNC Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt handed in her resignation at the same time as she decided to remove the remnants of the toppled Silent Sam Confederate monument. Two days later, Michigan State interim president John Engler tendered his resignation rather than be fired in the wake of another in a long series of missteps seen as hostile toward victims of sexual assault. Clearly, the details and dynamics of each situation are different. Underneath all those details, the two cases fit into a larger trend of cultural change causing governance challenges on campus. Anyone who remembers the 1960s will tell you that's nothing new. It is still notable today for playing out in the form of politically charged clashes between presidents and boards at public institutions.
 
MDOC, recently plagued by corruption, wants to be allowed more secrecy
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: The agency rocked in recent years by the largest corruption scandal in Mississippi history wants to be allowed more secrecy with its public records. I'll let that sink in. Mississippi Department of Corrections officials -- charged with locking up people who don't follow the law -- on Wednesday whined to a panel of lawmakers that following the state's public records laws is too onerous. "There should be some limits on what you are transparent about," Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall told the Senate Corrections Committee. Trust me, commissioner, in Mississippi there are many, many limits to what state government is transparent about. There have been some improvements, but overall Mississippi has barely joined the 21st Century in access to public records.


SPORTS
 
Alone at the top: Bulldogs bounce Gamecocks from first place in SEC standings
In their biggest home game of the season to date, the No. 6 Mississippi State Bulldogs had to overcome more than just the formidable No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday night. Less than a minute after tipoff, sophomore guard Chloe Bibby crashed to the court at Humphrey Coliseum and clutched her left knee. The crowd of 10,006 was loud during pre-game and it carried over into game action. But when Bibby was down on the floor with head coach Vic Schaefer holding her right hand, all that was heard were Bibby's agonizing cries. After she was carried off the court, the Bulldogs had to carry on and play a basketball game. And they did. "To have what happened to us tonight, y'all, it's really just what you dread as a coach," Schaefer said. "But to see our bench, our kids, our team rally and adjust, as a coach you can't be prouder."
 
No. 7 Mississippi State's toughness wins out vs. No. 15 South Carolina
Vic Schaefer's message was clear: The Bulldogs needed to be tougher. After watching South Carolina's Bianca Jackson grab an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and Te'a Cooper bank in a 3-pointer from the left wing at the end of the third quarter, the Mississippi State women's basketball coach implored his players to raise their level of play and not give the Gamecocks a chance to build on their momentum after cutting the deficit to one point. MSU responded to Schaefer's encouragement with one of its best responses of the season. Teaira McCowan had 26 points and 24 rebounds, and Jordan Danberry had 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and two steals Thursday night to lead No. 7 MSU to an 89-74 victory against No. 15 South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference game before a crowd of 10,006 at Humphrey Coliseum.
 
Inside presence: Teaira McCowan's solid play in paint helps Bulldogs to win
Replacing A'Ja Wilson has been a chore for the South Carolina Gamecocks this season and it was never felt more than on Thursday night at a raucous Humphrey Coliseum on front of over 10,000 fans for the second year in a row. The low-post presence that the No. 15 Gamecocks possess this season is still a stout one, but it was no match for Mississippi State All-American Teaira McCowan. The senior had as many rebounds herself as the Gamecocks had as a team and helped the Bulldogs to their 21st-consecutive Southeastern Conference regular season win with the 89-74 triumph. McCowan, fresh off of a third SEC Player of the Week honor, had 26 points and 24 rebounds playing all 40 minutes in the game. Her rebounds matched South Carolina's 24 for the game and State had 49 as a team to dominate the paint. MSU (17-1, 5-0 SEC) will continue through the SEC schedule next Thursday when they travel to Gainesville to take on Florida at 6 p.m. on SEC Network +. The Bulldogs come back home to take on rival Ole Miss at 2 p.m. on Jan. 27.
 
No. 7 Mississippi State women top No. 15 South Carolina
No. 7 Mississippi State lost power forward Chloe Bibby due to injury on the opening possession of Thursday night's game against 15th-ranked South Carolina. But the Bulldogs did not let that stop them from standing tall atop the SEC standings when the final horn sounded. MSU outscored the Gamecocks by 14 in the fourth quarter to pull away for an 89-74 victory in front of 10,006 at Humphrey Coliseum. It was the most points surrendered by a Dawn Staley coached team in an SEC game during her 11 seasons at South Carolina. "To have what happened to us tonight is what you dread as a coach," said MSU's Vic Schaefer. "But to see our kids, our team and our bench rally and adjust, as a coach you can't be prouder." Schaefer did not have an update on Bibby after the game but the sophomore from Australia injured her left leg.
 
Teaira McCowan Leads Mississippi State Past South Carolina, 89-74
Coach Vic Schaefer has spent the majority of Teaira McCowan's four-year career trying to get the most out of her enormous potential. For 40 glorious minutes on Thursday night, he saw every bit of it. Mississippi State's 6-foot-7 senior forward had one of the best games of her career, finishing with 26 points and 24 rebounds to lead the seventh-ranked Bulldogs over No. 15 South Carolina 89-74 at Humphrey Coliseum. "Teaira McCowan -- she's one of the all-time greatest when she's hooked up and playing," Schaefer said. "She's been really interested the last two ballgames. I like this side of T. She's been really interested, very focused on technique and very determined." This is the McCowan that the Bulldogs need if they're going to make another run to the Final Four.
 
Boards come back to bite Gamecock women in tough defeat at Mississippi State
Coming into Thursday's top-15 matchup between Mississippi State and South Carolina women's basketball, each team's strength was clear. No. 7 MSU could rebound the ball better than almost anyone in the country, led by All-American senior center Teaira McCowan. No. 15 USC had explosive guards who could put up points in bunches and rain 3s when they were hot. And sure enough, both teams got exactly that in a thrilling battle that featured eight lead changes and six ties. Ultimately, the Bulldogs' prowess on the boards was too much, as they handed the Gamecocks an 89-74 defeat. "We did the best we could" coach Dawn Staley told reporters of her team's rebounding woes, according to 247Sports. "We have to figure something out before March." Into the final 10 minutes, the wheels fell off for USC, as the Gamecocks shot just 20 percent from the field. McCowan kept at it, posting her fifth career game with 20 points and 20 rebounds.
 
Teaira McCowan answers call after Chloe Bibby forced to leave
Teaira McCowan was ready to step in and do her part. After seeing teammate Chloe Bibby go down with an apparent injury 35 seconds into the game against South Carolina on Thursday night, McCowan said she realized her teammates needed her "extra." McCowan responded to Bibby's absence by scoring a team-high 26 points and grabbing 24 rebounds to help the No. 7 Mississippi State women's basketball team beat No. 15 South Carolina 89-74 in a Southeastern Conference game before a crowd of 10,006 at Humphrey Coliseum. "My teammates found me," said McCowan, who had 12 offensive rebounds. "I knew coming in it was big game, so I could not take the night off. I had to go in and execute the game plan my coaches gave me throughout the week." McCowan's effort helped MSU (17-1, 5-0 SEC) earn the largest rebounding margin (49-24) against South Carolina (12-5, 4-1) this season.
 
South Carolina, State's SEC nemesis, had no answer for Teaira McCowan this time
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: When Mississippi State stunned mighty UConn and the women's basketball world two years ago in the Final Four, who was there to spoil the party and win the national championship two nights later? South Carolina, that's who. Last season, when State went through the SEC's regular season undefeated, who was there to end that amazing victory streak in the SEC Championship game? South Carolina, that's who. A roadblock doesn't begin to describe what South Carolina has been to Vic Schaefer's remarkable run as Mississippi State's women's basketball coach. But here Thursday night, Schaefer and his seventh-ranked Bulldogs took No. 15 South Carolina's best shot and batted it away in much the same manner Teaira McCowan often bats away an opponent's shot. That is, with force and fury. With McCowan providing 26 points and 24 rebounds, State broke open a close game and ran away from the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter of an 87-74 victory won before an enthused, often thunderous crowd of 10,006 at The Hump.
 
Mississippi State uses more zone to slow down South Carolina
The Dispatch's Adam Minichino writes: There's always work to be done when you're the hunted. An hour before the Mississippi State women's basketball team's game against Auburn on Monday night, associate head coach Johnnie Harris was sitting in the retractable bleachers at Auburn Arena with her feet propped up. The pose allowed Harris to use her legs as a table for her laptop, which was queued up to clips of South Carolina. In front of Harris, the Bulldogs went through the warmup paces with strength and conditioning coach Marci Hoppa to get them ready to take on the Tigers. Meanwhile, Harris pored over the video in hopes of finding ways to slow down the Gamecocks. Harris' study gave her an idea she said she was going to suggest to head coach Vic Schaefer. For those who know Schaefer, the notion might have sounded outlandish.
 
Texas A&M offering free tickets to furloughed federal workers this Saturday
Texas A&M is offering complimentary tickets to furloughed federal workers for Saturday's events in College Station. The Aggie track and field teams will host the A&M Triangular at 1:15 p.m. at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium, while the men's basketball team will host Missouri at 2:30 p.m. at Reed Arena. Any United States government employee currently on furlough can show their valid government ID on Saturday to receive two free tickets to either event. Admission for Saturday's swimming and diving dual meets and women's tennis dual matches is free for all fans. A&M's swimming and diving teams will host LSU at 11 a.m. at the Student Recreation Center, while the Aggie women's tennis team will host Texas-San Antonio at 10 a.m. and Houston at 2 p.m. in a doubleheader.
 
'The team loved it': Clemson assistant coach says don't politicize White House meal
As President Donald Trump's meal of fast food for the Clemson football team at the White House was mocked on social media and became the talk of pundits for the news cycle, one assistant coach for the team defended the meal and said, "The team loved it," according to a Facebook post. "I can't believe this boy from Fayetteville, NC got to eat McDonald's with his wife and some of his closest friends in the White House," Miguel Chavis, Clemson football's assistant for defensive player development, said in the post. "The team loved it. The families loved it, and everyone was so hospitable and welcoming in the White House. It's a pretty cool tradition that the National Champions get to visit the White House," he wrote. "People can politicize anything. Today and tonight wasn't about politics, political parties, presidents or what divides us. Tonight was about a group of young men being honored for their extraordinary feat and their unbelievable character. Congrats boys; y'all deserve it!" Chavis wrote.
 
Insurance market for football evaporating, causing major threat for NFL, Pop Warner, colleges
From the NFL to rec leagues, football is facing a stark, new threat: an evaporating insurance market that is fundamentally altering the economics of the sport, squeezing and even killing off programs faced with higher costs and a scarcity of available coverage, an Outside the Lines investigation has found. The NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma, according to multiple sources; just one carrier is willing to provide workers' compensation coverage for NFL teams. Before concussion litigation roiled the NFL beginning in 2011, at least a dozen carriers occupied the insurance market for pro football, according to industry experts. With youth participation rates continuing to fall, the insurance crisis adds another layer of uncertainty to the future of America's No. 1 sport. Insurance companies, which earn billions of dollars each year by taking on risk, are increasingly reluctant to bet on football and other sports associated with traumatic brain injuries.
 
Hunting for a Saints ticket? La. attorney general warns of scams
Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning New Orleans Saints fans to be cautious when trying to buy tickets to Sunday's NFC Championship game. The Louisiana Republican on Wednesday released tips for the hot Superdome ticket. Landry suggests ticket buyers should beware of prices that seem too good to be true, like someone offering a ticket for below face value. He recommends sticking with well-known ticket brokers and avoiding sites like Craigslist, where the ticket likely can't be verified. The attorney general urges checking to see if the ticket seller belongs to the National Association of Ticket Brokers or has a guarantee policy.
 
Saints game means big weekend for Coast sports betting
With The New Orleans Saints hosting the NFC championship game Sunday, Coast casinos are bracing for plenty of sports betting action. Sports book operations are gearing up for a huge day, and bettors are looking at the numbers on the Saints game. It's was quiet Thursday morning around DraftKings at Scarlet Pearl Sportsbook, but that's going to change. "I'll tell you what, there's going to be a lot of action. We're excited," said Nico Sfanos, director of sports betting. Sfanos echoed the thoughts of all casinos on the coast. With the AFC and NFC Championship games coming up Sunday and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, sports books will be rocking and rolling. Around South Mississippi at sports book operations, the New Orleans Saints are the team to bet on, hosting the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game in the Superdome. The Saints are favored in that game.



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