Tuesday, January 3, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State history professor receives prestigious Humboldt fellowship
Mississippi State University Associate Professor of History Alexandra "Alix" Hui will spend three summers in Germany after receiving a Humbodt Research Fellowship for Experienced Scholars, one of the most prestigious academic awards in Germany. Given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the awards are designed to foster international exchange and networking among scientists and scholars. Hui is among several faculty members in the MSU History Department researching the history of science and technology as part of the department's History of Science and Technology Node of Excellence. As part of the fellowship, Hui will spend the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019 working in Germany. Going abroad during the summer allows Hui to continue her teaching and research at MSU during the fall and spring semesters.
Mississippi State faculty teach epidemiology in China
Two Mississippi State University professors in the College of Veterinary Medicine are reaching out to students around the world who want to learn about their specialized field of epidemiology. Drs. David R. Smith and Robert W. Wills recently traveled to China to teach a two-week, two-credit-hour course funded by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Epidemiology is not taught as part of regular veterinary training in China, he added. Both faculty members also traveled to the country last year under a cooperative arrangement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.
African American Studies program celebrates 10 years at Mississippi State
The African American Studies program is celebrating a decade of service and pride at Mississippi State University. "It's been really exciting to make an impact on students through our events and programs, and we look forward to furthering the university's mission of fostering diversity and multiculturalism in the years to come," said Donald M. Shaffer, MSU associate professor of English and African American Studies. To kick off its yearlong celebration, the program is hosting two trailblazing figures of the 1960s African American Studies movement in higher education during the 2017 spring semester.
2017 Priorities: MSU Riley Center seeks to attract new patrons, partner with schools
The Meridian Star invited some community leaders to identify their priorities for 2017. The following is from Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the Mississippi State University Riley Center: The MSU Riley Center's three main goals for 2017 revolve around our three main areas of operation: Performing Arts Presenting, Arts Integration/Education and Conference Business.
Mississippi Agriculture Economy Growing
Mississippi State University Extension Service evaluates the value of Mississippi agriculture at $7.6 billion. That's an increase of nearly 2%. Brian Williams is an agriculture economist at MSU. He says poultry production was strong. "We had a real good year for broilers. Our production was up, as was poultry prices. Some of our other commodities, cotton had a real good year, with both production and prices being quite higher than a year ago." Williams says poultry remains the state's number one agriculture product. Forestry, soybeans, corn, and cotton round out the top five. Soybeans are the most lucrative row crop, with $1 billion in value. Despite having 250,000 fewer acres farmed, Williams says soybeans had a big year. Williams says Mississippi farmers are doing a good job at consistently increasing crop yields.
Big Gains for Cotton, Corn in Mississippi for 2016
Cotton. It's the south's traditional cash crop. In 2016, Mississippi's cotton appraisal skyrocketed. Farmers grew nearly half a billion dollars worth. Mississippi State University Extension Service agriculture economist Brian Williams explains. "That industry had a really big year this year. We had an 87% increase in the value of production for cotton lint. We had a 40% increase in acres, a little bit better yields than a year ago, and we had better prices than a year ago. So, a really good year all around for cotton." Like cotton, the value of corn grown and harvested in Mississippi is also about a half billion dollars. "A few more acres this year than a year ago. A little bit lower yield, and a little bit lower prices. But the increase in acres helped to drive about a 27% increase in the value of production of corn."
In 15 years, Brad Judson builds a successful row crop operation
When Brad Judson received his agricultural business/economics degree from Mississippi State University, he didn't have a family farming operation to which he could return. His father had got out of farming in the 1980s, when Brad was about 10. "I had some early exposure to the farming life," he says, "and during high school and college, I worked for a farmer, the late Russell Rardin. When I finished at Mississippi State, he asked me if I had any interest in farming myself. 'Yes,' I said, 'but I don't have any land or equipment.' He was looking toward retirement and said he would help me get started." Today, Brad and his wife, Molly, farm some 3,000 acres in Clay, Monroe, and Lowndes counties in the black prairie region of east central Mississippi, and he has been named one of the ten finalists for the national Outstanding Young Farmer Award.
Wildlife Bureau director Chad Dacus leaves MDWFP
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Wildlife Bureau director Chad Dacus has resigned. "I'm going to take a position with MSU (Mississippi State University) Extension Service in Starkville as the training coordinator for the USDA Wildlife Services Training Academy," Dacus said. "It's something brand new. "I saw an opportunity to do something where I could influence wildlife biologists across the nation -- to be on the ground floor of the National Training Academy." According to an MSU media release, the academy is the first of its kind in the United States and is dedicated to training, instruction and safely resolving human-wildlife conflicts and safety-related risks. It can train up to 1,200 USDA Wildlife Services personnel currently tasked with responding to human-wildlife conflicts across the US.
Community college leaders take civil rights bus tour with goal of solving problems today
In the sleepy city of Selma, Ala., about 50 community college leaders walk along a concrete sidewalk. They stand in two lines. On their right is Water Avenue, a two-lane road, where few cars are parked and even fewer people visit the few shops and businesses. On their left stands a two-story French colonial building that houses a career center to help the city's residents. The facade appears haunted and dated. Generations ago the building served as a marketplace where black men, women and children were sold into servitude. Among the group of educators, there is a sense of excitement in the air. The sun is just beginning to set as they embark on one of the highlights of their journey -- crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Most of the group are participants in the Alabama and Mississippi Community College Policy Fellows Program, which is sponsored by the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center and Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government.
2016: A year of questions -- and some answers -- in Oktibbeha County
In 2016, many important questions were asked in Starkville and Oktibbeha County. How can the city provide a permanent home for its police force? What does the future hold for OCH Regional Medical Center? How will Starkville address growth and development in the next decade? Many questions were resolved last year, but problems remain. From the development of a financial plan that will construct a partnership school for all sixth- through seventh-grade students to horrific crimes in the city's Cotton District, an eventful 2016 produced many highs and lows -- and headlines. Here is a look at the year's top stories in Starkville.
Greater Starkville Development Partnership opens search for CEO, tourism director
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership has officially opened its search for a new president and CEO, and it is adding another position as well. In October, Jennifer Gregory submitted her resignation to the GSDP board, citing no particular reason. She joined the economic development group in 2009 as vice president of tourism development and director of Starkville Main Street. She was chief operating officer when she was named CEO in late 2012, replacing former GSDP president and CEO Jon Maynard, who resigned in March of that year. The GSDP, in announcing its search for a new leader, also said it was looking to fill a new job -- director of tourism development.
Sandra Sistrunk will qualify for Starkville's Ward 2 post
Former Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk will face incumbent Lisa Wynn in May's Democratic Primary as she intends to qualify for this year's municipal election cycle. Sistrunk, who represented Ward 2 from 2009-13, lost her seat in a runoff after first tying with Wynn in the 2013 Democratic Primary. "This election is about the future," Sistrunk said. "It's about what I can do to help Starkville be a place people want to live and start businesses, and I want to use my skills and abilities to make those things a reality." Sistrunk, 66, has accountant certifications and worked for years with companies within the health care industry. She and her husband, Wayne, have lived in Starkville for about 17 years.
Debate over OCH mirrors process in Lowndes 23 years ago
Leroy Brooks remembers well the public furor that arose when Lowndes County supervisors voted to lease the county-owned hospital to Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation. Brooks, who represents District 4 on the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors, was one of two supervisors to vote against the lease agreement in 1993. The lease passed in a 3-2 vote, with former supervisors Johnny Mack McCrary, Dwight Colson and Walt Willis voting in favor. Former supervisor Murray Anthony voted with Brooks against the lease. Every supervisor who voted in favor of the lease lost their seat in the next election. "When election time came, the three guys that were incumbents, they got beaten real bad," Brooks said. "It was because of the hospital issue. The community just was in opposition. They went on and leased it anyway, and then came the election." Today, Oktibbeha County faces a similar decision as supervisors weigh whether to proceed in seeking proposals to privatize the county-owned OCH Regional Medical Center.
Many issues could pop up in 2017 session
Bills will be filed for the upcoming legislative session ranging the gamut from expanding Medicaid, to further limiting abortions in the state to expanding charter schools to enacting a lottery. Most of the literally thousands of pieces of legislation never make it out of committee. Some will. Several hundred will become laws -- some major pieces of legislation, others making only minor changes to existing law. Each of the 174 legislators will have their pet projects and goals for the upcoming session, which starts Jan. 3. For instance, state House Workforce Development Chair Donnie Bell, R-Fulton, wants to direct a portion of the work force training funds currently going primarily to the state's 15 community colleges to kindergarten through 12th grade schools.
Mississippi legislative session: What will 2017 bring?
The 2016 Mississippi legislative session was, by most accounts, an arduous one, with lawmakers grappling with flagging revenue and budget cuts while passing major tax cuts and a religious objection to gay marriage bill that drew national criticism and litigation. The 2017 session, which begins Tuesday and is scheduled to run through April 2, promises similar budgetary issues, with revenue growth expected to be minuscule or flat. Initial proposals by the legislative budget committee and Gov. Phil Bryant propose more cuts for most agencies. The Republican leadership returns to Jackson with a supermajority in both houses. The 2015 elections gave the House its first GOP three-fifths majority, meaning the Republican leadership can pass tax and spending bills and most of a roughly $6 billion state budget without support from the Democratic minority.
Legislators convene with money on their minds
Complete tax reform, a shift in public education funding and a tightening of overall state spending will headline the 2017 legislative session, which begins Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn will gavel in the session at noon, and lawmakers are scheduled to be in Jackson until April 2. While the main objective during any session is passing a state budget for the next fiscal year, other important items will be discussed. Here are several agenda items to watch this session.
Mississippi's Legislature will tackle BP spending, infrastructure and school funding
If things shake out in Jackson the next three months the way Sen. Michael Watson predicts, they should sell tickets. "We're going to fight and claw and scream and kick and shove," Watson, a Pascagoula Republican, said. People will and do part with their hard-earned money to see such a spectacle under the banner of mixed martial arts. But Watson was speaking figuratively. No one in the Mississippi Legislature has gone full South Korean Parliament and started swinging at their colleagues. And admission to the Legislature is free, although seating in the gallery is limited. Still, Coast lawmakers have been doing their best to get the Coast's movers and shakers to join the fight for more than $700 million in BP economic damages money yet to be spent.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann thinks budget will dominate session
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he thinks the bulk of action in the new year's legislative session in Mississippi, which will begin Jan. 3, will deal with the state's budget. How those discussions play out is anyone's guess, he said. "It's not predictable. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just giving you their opinion," Hosemann said. The focus of many in the state will be to find ways to keep more money in the private sector, which Hosemann said leads to job growth. "There's a strong feeling in Mississippi and in the country that we don't want to raise taxes on anyone and that feeling is in the legislature, as well," he said. "We are grappling with roads and bridges, but without having a commensurate income stream...we'll see how that shapes out.
Education, roads, budget: Lawmakers talk 2017 goals
Lawmakers go back to work in Jackson on Tuesday, the first day of the 2017 legislative session. There are some big issues up for debate, including school funding, improvements to the state's aging roads and bridges, balancing the budget and perhaps some tax reform. The Hattiesburg American contacted some Pine Belt lawmakers to find out what their legislative goals are for this year.
House GOP maintains unity through caucus meetings
In Congress, they call it the Hastert rule -- the idea that a majority of the majority party must approve of legislation before it comes to the floor. Maybe in Mississippi they will call it the Gunn rule, because Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn's practice of vetting legislation in Republican caucus meetings is altering the Legislature's dynamics. Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he didn't invent the principle, saying it's common sense that a legislative leader chosen by members of a particular party should generally avoid passing legislation against the party's wishes. But in the bygone world where all Mississippi lawmakers were Democrats, a party label meant almost nothing, and coalitions were assembled bill-by-bill. The polarized Legislature created by the ascendance of Republicans has led to more of a parliamentary system in the House, where Republicans feel pressure to vote in lockstep on key bills.
Who should be in charge of licensing Mississippi's teachers?
Mississippi's leaders may consider using an independent board to vet and license teachers and teacher preparation programs in an attempt to ensure teachers are better prepared. The idea came out of a task force of education leaders and stakeholders, which was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant earlier this year to look at how prepared teachers are for early literacy instruction. One of the recommendations made within the task force's 71-page report was that the state create an independent licensing board to issue teacher licenses and vet the state's educator preparation programs, or EPPs -- a responsibility currently handled by the Mississippi Department of Education's Office of Education Licensure. State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright and State Board of Education Chairwoman Rosemary Aultman disagreed with the task-force recommendations in a letter to Rock and Dr. Devon Brenner, assistant to the vice president for education initiatives at Mississippi State University, after the task force recommendations were made.
What to expect from Coast casino industry as it turns 25 in 2017
This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the day a long line of people stood in sweltering heat on Aug. 1, 1992, to be among the first to board the Isle of Capri riverboat and be part of history. A pair of Isle of Capri riverboats had traveled down the Mississippi River from Iowa into their new home port of Biloxi, complete with an escort of fishing and recreational boats. The owners of those small boats wanted to be part of the promise of jobs and the expected boom casinos would bring to the Coast. Mississippi was one of the first states outside of Nevada to legalize casinos. "I was there when the first boat opened," said Allen Godfrey, who now has the top job -- executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Association. "It's just been an amazing run." Coast casinos came back from near destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the challenges of the national recession and the Gulf oil spill that followed. This 25th anniversary year will be a time to celebrate the accomplishments.
Former Georgia governor said to be Trump's choice for agriculture secretary
Sonny Perdue III, the former governor of Georgia, is president-elect Donald Trump's leading candidate to be his U.S. secretary of agriculture, according to a person familiar with the matter. Perdue, 70, would succeed Tom Vilsack. Perdue met with Trump Nov. 30 and afterward said they talked about agricultural commodities traded domestically and internationally. While Perdue is the front-runner, the decision isn't final, the person said. Trump won the presidency partly on strong support from voters in rural areas clamoring for an economic turnaround. Perdue appears to be emerging from a broad pack of candidates. Trump and his aides have interviewed several others, including former Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano, former Rep. Henry Bonilla of Texas, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a Democrat.
The economy in 2017? The trend is up, but not for everyone
There are good reasons for optimism about the United States economy in 2017: Growth is steady, inflation is low, and more people are working. Businesses are so eager for workers that 2017 might be the year when wages finally start growing robustly. President-elect Donald Trump is promising steep business tax cuts and fewer regulations. No wonder the stock market is flirting with 20,000 on the Dow stock index and consumer confidence in November hit its highest level since before the Great Recession. If Mr. Trump can avoid trade wars with other nations, the economy looks set to shine next year, giving the new administration time for its proposed tax cuts and infrastructure stimulus to have an effect in 2018 or 2019.
Alabama Hyundai plant continues production pace in 2016
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama had another banner year of vehicle production in 2016. According to figures released by the company, the Montgomery plant finished the year producing 379,021 vehicles. The total was down slightly from last year's total of more than 384,500, but still showed strength through the production of the Santa Fe Sport. It also looks as though Alabama will finish a second consecutive year with its three automakers producing more than 1 million vehicles. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in December announced it had a record-breaking production year in 2016, with the plant producing 369,538 vehicles and engines. 2015 saw the largest annual production total in the history of the state industry.
USM gets $7.7M for oyster research, aquaculture
The state is already planning to invest BP settlement funds in restoring coastal revenue, and the University of Southern Mississippi is playing a big role in making that happen. Nearly two years ago, Gov. Phil Bryant formed the Oyster Restoration and Resiliency Council to study how the state could revitalize its once-prolific oyster harvest. The outcome of the study combined with a chance opportunity to conduct research at a privately held facility in Stone County landed Southern Miss a grant for $7.7 million of BP money to acquire the Aqua Green hatchery facility in Perkinston. An additional $3 million will be provided by the Legislature. "That's a fascinating facility," said Rep. Brad Touchstone, R-Hattiesburg, who has toured the facility.
USM gives French teachers training from across the pond
French teachers from around the South gathered recently at the University of Southern Mississippi for a training provided by the French consulate in Atlanta. The elementary, middle, high school and college-level teachers received instruction in French on how to tailor their lessons to classrooms where students are differently skilled. Pierre-Yves Roux, who traveled from France's International Center for Educational Studies, led the training. "It applies to any class where students come with different learning abilities," said Keltoum Rowland, University of Southern Mississippi French instructor. "We have almost 20 French teachers who have come from Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi for this training."
Colonial Drive upgrades at U. of Alabama in progress
Infrastructure work along Colonial Drive at the University of Alabama is scheduled to be completed by early January before classes resume for the spring semester. Classes resume at UA on Jan. 11. The work is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 8. The road closed, and work began after classes ended earlier this month. The work is in support of future development along the Colonial Drive and 10th Avenue corridor, said Associate Vice President for Construction Tim Leopard. The work includes electrical lines, water lines, storm and sanitary sewers and telecommunication lines. A portion of the road will remain closed during construction of the new $15-million Alpha Omicron Pi chapter house, part of the series of new sorority housed being built along Colonial Drive. The university also plans to build a new residence hall to replace the nearby Tutwiler residence hall at the corner of Paul W. Bryant Drive and 10th Avenue.
U. of Arkansas Professor Andrew Sharpley Incoming President of National Soil Society
The University of Arkansas announced recently that Professor Andrew Sharpley will begin his term as president of the Soil Society of America on Jan. 1. He was elected in 2015 and served as president-elect in 2016. The university said Sharpley has been an SSSA member for more than 35 years and served it in several capacities, most recently as editor-in-chief. Sharpley's research focuses on studying impacts of agricultural management on water quality and implementing practices to minimize nutrient runoff.
USDA honeybee researchers in Baton Rouge focus on causes of population decline
In recent years, considerable buzz has focused on the health of a small, but critically important, insect -- the honeybee. Parasites, pesticides, diseases and habitat loss have all played a part in a marked decline in the number of honey bee colonies, a growing problem for beekeepers, according to Robert Danka, research leader at the USDA's ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture operates the lab from a facility on Ben Hur Road near LSU's campus. While the decline in bee populations nationally has been alarming, Louisiana has fared better than many other areas, according to Danka and Kristen Healy, an assistant professor who specializes in medical entomology and public health entomology at LSU.
U. of Florida builds third bat house, will eventually replace older one
The University of Florida has begun building a third home for its nocturnal friends across from Lake Alice. The site, a popular Gainesville attraction, is home to about 350,000 bats and brings crowds in the evenings to see bats hit the town for the night in search of food. Paul Ramey, assistant director of marketing at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said the new home is being built in hopes of getting bats to transfer from the originally constructed bat house to the newer digs, which will have the barn design. Bats have long been a fact of life on the UF campus.
Texas A&M invited to join Facebook technology research partnership
Texas A&M will join several universities across the country to participate in a Facebook initiative that will make collaborating on research projects easier and more efficient. Facebook's Sponsored Academic Research Agreement plans to bring together 17 universities to collaborate on web-based science and technology research with the tech company's new "Building 8" hardware team. Facebook Vice President of Engineering and head of the Building 8 team Regina Dugan said in a Facebook post announcing the agreement Wednesday the new partnership will allow Facebook engineers and researchers to work more efficiently with individual faculty and laboratories from the universities. The move is intended to decrease the turnaround time usually associated with working on multi-organizational joint projects.
Protests, politics and scandal defined 2016 for Texas universities
It's not every year you see police in riot gear on the Texas A&M University campus -- or thousands of students carrying dildos at the University of Texas at Austin. But 2016 was an unusual year for higher education in Texas. Here's a look back at the top stories during 12 months of unrest.
U. of Missouri police body cameras provide details of September racial incident
In more than five hours of body-camera videos, University of Missouri police in September captured scenes that, taken together, present a reality play about endemic behavior issues on campus -- racial insults and fraternities behaving badly. Black female students intent on confronting a group overheard using a racial slur followed them across campus to the sidewalk in front of Delta Upsilon house, enlisting the aid of Officer Jacob Clifford along the way. As numerous police units arrived, the commotion drew the attention of fraternity members, including one pair who thrust a speaker blaring rap music through their window. Other fraternity members began recording the scene below and shouting at the women. The 24 videos, 5 hours and 27 minutes in all and provided to the Tribune under a Sunshine Law request, back up the narrative produced in incident reports.
As he gets ready to join U. of Missouri, new business dean calls ASU 'a wonderful ride'
As Ajay Vinze shifts to MU as the new dean of the Trulaske College of Business, he is leaving behind Arizona State University, the institution he's called home for 18 years. "It's been a wonderful ride for me," Vinze said. "My decision to come to Missouri took absolutely nothing away from ASU or my love for ASU and what I've experienced here." Vinze said the opportunity was too good to pass up, pointing to MU's membership in the Association of American Universities and its status as a regionally recognized university. He said the opportunity came at a good time personally, as both of his children are grown and out on their own. With every transition comes growing pains, of course. Many of Vinze's colleagues at the W.P. Carey School of Business hold him in high regard and said he leaves a large hole in both the department of information systems and the university.
Beware of leaders with unchecked shadows
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "History tells us when those who yield to their shadow selves choose leaders of their ilk, calamity, often war, follows. Carl Jung labeled the dark side of self as 'the shadow.' His psychiatric research into personality found people to have inner shadows associated with feelings of guilt, fear, hate, anger, selfishness, etc. ...In today's world, more and more leaders are rising up who play to the shadow selves of their people -- Putin in Russia, Netanyahu in Israel, Erdogan in Turkey, Sisi in Egypt, Duterte in the Philippines, Trump in the U.S., and more on the rise in Europe. We can see it at the state and local levels, too, where the politics of division and self-interest overwhelm the good of the whole."
Some personal reflection on the immigration question
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The Sunday before Christmas, Leilani and I were privileged to have all our children and grandchildren home for a visit and a good meal. The grandchildren were, as usual, virtually unable to eat anything (other than candy, cookies, and soft drinks) because of the anticipation of opening what was under the Christmas tree. The children were still busy getting ready for their own Christmas celebrations in their own homes, plus making the rounds to other grandparents and friends. There were also visits for holiday celebrations with my brother-in-law from Tupelo and my sister from Meridian that were a great deal of fun. But this week, I'm enjoying a gift from me to me -- with a little help from my wife. Over the last year, I've become interested in genealogy in a way I never thought probable and we're taking a holiday trip not to the beach or the mountains, but to some rural church cemeteries in Alabama."

John Cohen's move from baseball coach to AD is Mississippi State's top story of 2016
In a year littered with notable Mississippi State stories, none was bigger than John Cohen. Cohen began 2016 as the MSU baseball coach. With several upperclassmen, junior college transfers, and freshmen stepping in right away, Cohen led the Bulldogs to a Southeastern Conference regular-season championship for the first time since 1989. He also helped the Bulldogs earn the No. 6 national seed and host a super regional, falling two games short of advancing to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. In the offseason, Cohen was given a four-year contract extension and added the title of associate athletic director. Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin left for the same position at Florida in September after serving at his alma mater for six years. Cohen was named MSU's new director of athletics Nov. 4. The decision is The Dispatch's top MSU story of 2016.
Mississippi State blows out LSU in SEC women's basketball opener
Victoria Vivians looked surprised. The Mississippi State junior guard was just about to complete her pre-game ritual and shoot a 3-pointer from the top of the key when the lights were lowered in Humphrey Coliseum. Rather than wait for Bully, MSU's mascot, to come out to center court and work with the band and the cheerleaders to pump up the fans, Vivians raised up and drained a trey and raced back to the locker room to get ready for pre-game introductions. The shot turned out to be the beginning of a very good day, as Vivians poured in a game-high 24 points and matched a career-high with 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season to lead No. 5 MSU to a 74-48 victory against LSU in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams before a crowd of 5,849.
Mississippi State notebook: Ketara Chapel has impact on Bulldogs' victory
Ketara Chapel was back in her comfort zone. Four days after an illness kept her from playing against Northwestern State, Chapel looked back to her old self against LSU. The Mississippi State senior forward also had something to prove to herself and to coach Vic Schaefer, so she set out Sunday to take care of business. In one of her best games of the campaign, Chapel had a season-high six points and two rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench to help No. 5 MSU beat LSU 74-48 before a crowd of 5,849 at Humphrey Coliseum. "Coach told me I needed to play better," Chapel said. "It felt good to be back out there playing."
Bulldogs up to No. 4 in women's poll
Mississippi State climbed to No. 4 in this week's Associated Press women's basketball poll. It's the highest ever ranking for the Bulldogs (15-0), who had spent the previous four weeks at No. 5. The bump came after Notre Dame, ranked No. 2 at the time, lost on Thursday to N.C. State. MSU is coming off a 74-48 win over LSU on Sunday in its SEC opener. Vic Schaefer's squad received 714 points in this week's poll, just 25 points behind No. 3 Maryland. UConn remains No. 1, while Baylor is No. 2.
Bulldogs prepare for SEC opener
Mississippi State hosts Alabama in its Southeastern Conference opener after going 9-3 in non-conference play. Head coach Ben Howland and senior point guard I.J. Ready discuss the Bulldogs' mindset with a young team facing the Crimson Tide on Tuesday.
Mississippi State's Ben Howland talks Crimson Tide
Mississippi State's Ben Howland joined the rest of the league's coaches on the SEC men's basketball teleconference on Monday to discuss the Bulldogs' SEC opener against Alabama on Tuesday. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal provides a transcript of Howland's time on the call.
Mississippi State's Quinndary Weatherspoon playing his best heading into SEC play
A camera from the SEC Network followed Quinndary Weatherspoon as he walked off the court after Mississippi State's 77-54 win against UMKC Thursday. Before he reached the tunnel leading to the MSU locker room, another camera focused on Weatherspoon and I.J. Ready placed his arm around the sophomore's shoulder. The Canton native deserved the attention. He posted his best statistical performance in his short career as a Bulldog with his first game with at least 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The 6-foot-4 guard matched his regular season scoring with 18 points in the first half in MSU's final tuneup before the start of SEC play against Alabama on Jan. 3. "I just credit my teammates finding me when I'm open," Weatherspoon said. "I'm knocking down shots right now. I'm very confident going into SEC play."
Dak Prescott nabs Times' Sportsperson of the Year
Not long ago, Dak Prescott played pick-up football while pretending he was the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. A stellar career at Haughton High was followed by a record-breaking and transcendent stint at Mississippi State University. Despite his on-the-field success and legendary status in Starkville, Mississippi, seven quarterbacks were selected ahead of Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft. However, some of the sting of being selected on the third day, in the fourth round, was the fact the Cowboys called his name. Prescott, who simply hoped to make the team entering training camp, quickly went from the No. 2 (following Kellen Moore's injury) to the starting quarterback when incumbent Tony Romo was injured just before the start of the regular season. Things didn't stop there. The 6-foot-2, 226-pounder has authored an historic rookie campaign.
'60 Minutes Sports': New accuser implicates former Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall
The most recent twist in the ongoing saga of the NCAA versus Donnie Tyndall will be part of the subject of the next episode of "60 Minutes Sports" which airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In his first television interview since the former Southern Miss men's basketball coach was hit with a 10-year ban in April for directing an intricate academic fraud scheme, which the NCAA determined he subsequently attempted to hide, Tyndall maintains the plan was the work of assistant coaches and vows he will continue to fight the charges. Over the course of the investigation, former Golden Eagle assistant coach Adam Howard was granted immunity in the case in exchange for testimony against Tyndall, who has been adamant that his former assistant only implicated him after having previously told the NCAA that Tyndall had no knowledge of the academic fraud.

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