Thursday, March 9, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State research shows large deer population in Starkville
A newly released study by Mississippi State University looks at the local deer population and the city has been given some suggestions that could help reduce the high number. Steve Demarais is a wildlife management professor at Mississippi State. He worked with eight of his students in the fall to study deer in the city limits of Starkville. "I was really pleased to see the amount of response by the citizens and it indicated a lot of issues with deer," Demarais said. They conducted over 130 surveys through social media and newspapers and identified specific areas in city with problems. Researchers say a majority of deer sightings are along South Montgomery Street especially in the area near the country club and where the city is seeing new development. Demarais presented his findings to the city Tuesday night and suggestions to control the deer population.
 
Susan Seal to lead Mississippi State's Center for Distance Education
Susan Seal has been named executive director of Mississippi State University's Center for Distance Education. Seal, a Neshoba County native and an assistant professor of international agricultural and extension education, has served as the interim executive director of the Center for Distance Education since July. "Susan demonstrated during the time that she served as interim executive director that she is an effective leader and has the human relations skills to work with our faculty, department heads and deans to ensure that we are seizing every opportunity to take our academic programs, where appropriate, to Mississippi residents and individuals around the world," MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner said.
 
Keith Coble picked as SOCSD board president
The Starkville-Oktibbeha School District Board of Trustees unanimously promoted Vice President Keith Coble to its top leadership position Tuesday after former President Jenny Turner's term expired. Tuesday's appointment marks the second time trustees have chosen Coble, who was first elected to the school board in 2008, to serve as school board president. Coble thanked his fellow board members for their show of support and identified progressing through the construction and development of the SOCSD-Mississippi State University partnership school and transitioning leadership from Superintendent Lewis Holloway to incoming Superintendent Eddie Peasant as the board's biggest upcoming tasks. The partnership school, which will be built on MSU's campus and educate all grades 6-7 students in Oktibbeha County, is expected to open in time for the 2018-19 academic year, and Peasant will assume his district leadership role July 1.
 
State unemployment holds; Starkville at 5.2 percent
Oktibbeha County saw unemployment rise slightly in January 2017, along with the rest of the Golden Triangle. Unemployment for the county is 5.9 percent, according to data released Wednesday by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, which is slightly higher than the state unemployment rate of 5.5 percent. The state average is unchanged from the previous month. Unemployment for the city of Starkville was slightly lower than the state average, at 5.2 percent Oktibbeha County saw unemployment totals jump from the previous month's 5.6 percent. The city of Starkville's unemployment rate was 5.2 percent for January 2017, while Columbus is at 7.1. As a whole, Mississippi lags the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.
 
Under water: Overstreet Elementary, surrounding neighborhood suffers from poor drainage
Emmett Smitherman is a third-generation resident of his home on South Jackson Street, right next door to Overstreet Elementary School where local public school fifth graders attend. Smitherman's grandfather bought the Victorian-style home at the intersection of Jackson and Green streets in 1910 and raised his father there. It was also Emmett's childhood home and ultimately, the place where he and his wife, Beverly, have made a life. Things have changed over the past year in Smitherman's neighborhood and not for the better. Three major rain events since spring 2016 have brought severe flooding to his and his neighbors' yards, sometimes with up to two feet of water accumulating on Jackson Street right in front of his home. About the same time the trouble started, a new multi-million dollar apartment complex, The Balcony, completed development on South Montgomery Street right next to Central Station -- and directly uphill from Overstreet Elementary and Smitherman's neighborhood.
 
'Capitol complex' bill passes Senate
A proposal to divert about $20 million a year in state sales taxes to help with Jackson infrastructure passed the Senate on Wednesday, but will still be subject to more debate and revision before it could be passed into law. House Bill 1226, similar to one that died last year, creates a "Capitol Complex District" that includes the state Capitol, surrounding state government buildings and encompasses areas around Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Its goal is to help the city fix crumbling infrastructure in areas heavy with tax-exempt, state-government owned property for which the city must provide services but receives little in tax revenue. The measure as it stands now would have the state Department of Finance and Administration oversee projects within the district, and have a committee appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, UMMC, mayor of Jackson and others advise DFA and help come up with plans for improvement projects.
 
Senate kills bill authorizing withholding of tax refunds
A bill that would have authorized the state to withhold income tax refunds from Mississippians who owe debt to private hospitals and community colleges was voted down in the Senate on Wednesday. Those who owe debts greater than $100 to nonprofit hospitals and $25 to community colleges could have had state income tax refunds withheld under the bill. The practice is already used for uncollected four-year university and child support debts. In addition to state community colleges, the bill would have broadened the practice to include nonprofit hospitals, making them the first private entity able to draw upon state assistance to collect outstanding debts. The bill, which failed by a close 24-23 vote, was held on a motion to reconsider on Wednesday, meaning the Senate can take another vote on the legislation on Thursday.
 
Mississippi's $89 million Medicaid problem: Hospitals furious
When James Huffman, who runs Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven, looks at his hospital's budget, he knows he'll have to make cuts this year. He's just not sure where to make them. "I have to clean rooms. I have to prepare meals. I have to have nurses to take care of patients. I've got to have pharmacies. I've got to have respiratory therapists," Huffman said. "...I've got to find a way to make payroll every two weeks, and if Medicaid payments suddenly stop, I can't." Medicaid is one of Baptist-DeSoto's biggest insurers, covering more than 10 percent of its patients. And right now the state agency is at a crisis point, facing a near record-breaking $89 million budget deficit. So far this session, lawmakers have committed only to fulfilling about half that deficit. This means Huffman and other hospital CEOs statewide will face their own budget crises and risk eliminating some patient services.
 
Mississippi minister who stood against racism in 1960s dies
Keith Tonkel, one of 28 white United Methodist ministers who signed a statement condemning segregation and racism in the Deep South in 1963, has died. Wells United Methodist Church, where he had been pastor since 1969, announced that Tonkel died Wednesday in Jackson, where he had been hospitalized for pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. The church said he died after experiencing a heart problem. He was 81. Tonkel was pastor of the small Guinn Memorial Methodist Church in Gulfport when he and 27 other young ministers signed the "Born of Conviction" statement against racism. It appeared in a Mississippi Methodist publication in January 1963, near the height of white resistance to the civil rights movement. It was released three months after a mob rioted because of the court-ordered integration of the University of Mississippi in Oxford and about five months before Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his Jackson home.
 
MSU, USM would have to fly flag to get tax break
The Mississippi House, by a narrow 57-56 margin, passed an amendment Wednesday that would require Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi to fly the state flag to receive certain tax breaks. The amendment, offered by Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, was to legislation that would provide tax exemption on university land leased to private entities for student housing. Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said he opposes changing the flag, but spoke in opposition to the Shirley amendment. He said the public universities funding has been significantly cut over an extended period of time and they need to make decisions that make them competitive. "Our public universities almost have become private universities" because of lack of state funding. He said the Legislature should not be concerned about whether the schools fly the flag.
 
Lawmakers consider forcing state flag on campuses
The issue of flying the state flag reignited in the House on Wednesday when a lawmaker filed an amendment on a student housing bill for Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi to require the universities to fly the state flag or the Magnolia flag if they receive state funds. Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, added the amendment, saying it doesn't change any flag. The House voted 57-56 to approve the amendment, but House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith is vowing to have the amendment removed from Senate Bill 2509 when it goes to a House and Senate conference committee. Rep. Chris Bell, D-Jackson, urged his colleagues in the House to look at the future of Mississippi, understanding that those like him see the flag as divisive. Bell said a lot people won't come to Mississippi because of the state flag.
 
Mississippi House to Colleges: Fly Flag or Lose Tax Break
Mississippi universities that refuse to fly the Confederate-themed state flag could lose proposed tax breaks, the latest twist in a long battle over a symbol critics see as racist. All eight of Mississippi's public universities have stopped flying the flag because it prominently features the Confederate battle emblem, and that has angered supporters of the banner. The state House voted 57-56 Wednesday to withhold proposed tax exemptions to public universities that refuse to fly the flag. However, a top lawmaker --- House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus --- said the flag provision is likely to disappear from the final version of the bill in the next few weeks. Senate Bill 2509 would provide tax exemptions for Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, but it could be expanded to add other schools.
 
Bill Could Cost Mississippi Universities Funding, If State Flag Not Flying
House Members are reviewing Senate Bill 2509. It would make new dormitories built at Mississippi universities tax exempt. House Republican William Shirley of Clarke County, has introduced an amendment that would make flying the state flag a requirement to receive funding. "We're going to keep rocking this baby until we get it done. As long as I'm here we're going to keep seeing this amendment til we decide whether we're going to fly a flag at state institutions that people are getting state dollars for or not fly a flag. So it's up to y'all," said Shirley. Democrat Steve Holland of Tupelo likes the state flag, but doesn't agree with Shirley's amendment. "It sort of offends me that we've got to stand here and worry about which flag any of our universities fly. You oughta worry about the engineering department at Mississippi State, if it's funded enough and the ag program at Alcorn. You can go on and on," said Holland.
 
State flag mandate slipped into college housing bill
What was expected to be a routine vote Wednesday to give two state universities the ability to build affordable student housing escalated into a tense debate over the flying of the Mississippi state flag. Senate Bill 2509 would give Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi the ability to build tax-exempt dorms. Backers of the legislation sought to send the bill to a joint House-Senate conference committee, where other colleges and universities were expected to ask for the same authority. Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, told the House that the amendment would not remain in the bill when it gets to a joint House-Senate conference committee. "If anybody thinks this amendment is going to stay in there in conference, the Easter bunny is coming...," Smith quipped.
 
MUW To Drop College Of Education and Human Sciences, Keep Educational Programs
Mississippi University for Women says state budget cuts is behind the move to eliminate the College of Education and Human Sciences. However, all academic programs will remain in place. Departments in the College of Education and Human Sciences will fall under others on the Columbus campus, such as the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Nursing and Speech Language Pathology and others. MUW Provost and Vice President Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas Richardson says the organizational change will save the university about $160,000 a year. In an email to faculty, Richardson says the goal is to reduce administrative costs, while maintaining strong academic programs.
 
Ole Miss 'e-cycling' gives technology a new life
Like most colleges, the University of Mississippi goes through tons of technology, with year-to-year upgrades turning modern PCs into salvage. The electronic waste, known as e-waste, can't sit in a storage closet forever, though. Instead, the university has them cleared away and sent to be reused or recycled. This process starts with the Office of Procurement, where Patti Mooney determines the fate of the computers that come her way. Computers too old to serve one department lose their hard drives and get sent to a new home. Whether or not that new home is another place on campus depends on the need. As long as parts can be bought for them and there's a motherboard to shove them into, old Ole Miss computers will eventually reside in another state-run department. The state requires the university to recycle what can't be rehabilitated, but students' e-waste is another matter. That's where the Office of Sustainability comes in.
 
Stripped-down UMMC collaboration bill passes Senate
After months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a series of revisions that stripped out all but two of the main tenets of the legislation, the Health Care Collaboration Act limped out of the Senate on Wednesday. House Bill 926, which would relax restrictions on how the University of Mississippi Medical Center strikes partnerships and buys equipment, faced bipartisan scrutiny from the moment it debuted in a House subcommittee back in January. The bill ultimately passed 36 to 9, with six senators voting present. Given the number of obstacles the bill faced on its road to the Senate floor, Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, pleaded with his colleagues to pass the legislation as he presented it, stressing that only his preferred version of the legislation had received the long-awaited blessing of both Mississippi Hospital Association and UMMC.
 
UMMC 'collaborative' bill passes Senate
The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill to allow the University of Mississippi Medical Center to enter into joint ventures with private or public hospitals and clinics and to operate more like a business than a public institution. But House Bill 926 was greatly amended from its original form to appease concerns of other hospitals and associations. Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, said measures that would have exempted the UMMC joint ventures from state public records laws, state and federal anti-trust regulations, certificate of need rules and sales and ad valorem taxes were all stripped from the original version. Also stripped was language that would allow UMMC joint ventures to borrow money backed by the full faith and credit of the state. The bill, which passed 36-8, now heads back to the House where it is expected to be passed on to the governor.
 
USM mistakenly sends Graduate School acceptance letters
The University of Southern Mississippi Graduate School last week mistakenly sent letters of acceptance to 144 applicants when it should have notified only 25 or fewer students. According to a statement from Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School, the school Friday morning sent the automated email in error to applicants to the speech pathology master's degree program. The missive congratulated them for their acceptance into the program and instructed them on how to apply for a graduate assistantship offered through the Children's Center for Communication and Development. "The mistake occurred as a result of a flawed query used to identify accepted applicants from our online application portal which then generated the automated email of acceptance that was sent to the applicants," Coats wrote.
 
USM prof has child with rare disease: 'We won't let this stand in our way'
A University of Southern Mississippi professor recently celebrated a day not marked by many people -- Rare Disease Day on Feb. 28. Joyce Inman's 10-year-old daughter, Sanders, has XLH or X-linked Hypophosphatemia. The disease -- affecting about one in 20,000 people -- causes the body to produce an excess of hormone known as FGF23, leading to low levels of phosphorus in the blood. One of the first symptoms Inman and her husband, Chris, noticed in Sanders was bowing of her legs when she was 2 years old. XLH is a rare genetic disorder, but it also can occur spontaneously, as it had in Sanders' case. Joyce Inman is looking forward to the future and even expects next year's Rare Disease Day to include some celebration. "I have the highest of hopes," she said. "I hope (Sanders) lives a long and happy life and in the process of doing that, she changes the lives of others."
 
Jackson mayoral debate at JSU canceled
Things are getting off to a choppy start in the Jackson mayoral race so far. After 16 candidates filed to run -- including a man with a Ridgeland address and a Pizza Hut delivery driver -- the first debate to be held outside of a church was canceled the day before it was set to happen. The PNG Community Action Committee had been planning to host its mayoral debate since November with the help of the Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University. JSU Interim Director of Communications Danny Blanton said the university didn't cancel the event; it was just unprepared to provide the level of support -- i.e., cameras from the journalism department -- for it to be successful. That, and "the e-Center could not be a sponsor of the event," Blanton said.
 
Delta State women's conference stresses knowledge of self
In honor of Women's History Month, the Office of Student Affairs at Delta State University kicked off its Women's Conference 2017 last Thursday. This year's conference is titled "I Am My Sister's Keeper #UnitedInGreen." The first event was an opening luncheon called "Rock the Red Pumps Project: A Day in My Shoes" that raised awareness for women and girls to get HIV tested. HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that is spread through certain bodily fluids that attacks the body's immune system. Vice President of Office of Student Affairs Vernell Bennett invited two women who are HIV positive to share their experiences of living with the virus.
 
MSMS students learn to 'think like a lawyer'
In a courtroom in Hinds County Saturday, Emily Shy stood before a jury. She was trying to argue that the grieving mother of a young girl killed in a car accident should receive compensation from the driver of the other car. The doctor's defense attorneys had already made their closing statements. Shy had five minutes to respond. "They claim we're hunting for a scapegoat," she said, "But they are the ones that camouflaged the truth." Shy is not an attorney. She's a senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science who has competed in mock trial for more than two years -- since before she was accepted to MSMS as a junior last year. The MSMS mock trial group is made up of two teams -- Team A and Team B -- who took home second and third place, respectively, after Friday and Saturday's Mississippi State Bar Mock Trial Competition. District Attorney Scott Colom who coaches the teams.
 
Black U. of Alabama student backed by 'Machine' wins SGA president: 'Everything has changed'
A black University of Alabama student supported by a secretive campus group long controlled by whites has been elected student government president, breaking a barrier that seemed unlikely to fall a few years ago. Junior marketing major Jared Hunter won the office in balloting Tuesday, carrying 54 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Hunter won after writing a column in the student newspaper, The Crimson White, stating he was supported by a campus organization called The Machine, which is composed of the most prestigious, historically white fraternities and sororities on campus. Blamed for various acts of wrongdoing for years, the group has controlled campus politics for generations. Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Hunter said he's been told he was the first black candidate ever backed by the group for SGA president, but race never became an issue in the election.
 
UGA promises 'unwavering commitment' for international students after Trump travel ban
University of Georgia officials have promised "unwavering commitment to our international students and faculty" after President Trump issued a second travel ban blocking citizens of six countries from entering the United States. The ban, issued in an executive order Monday, placed a 90-day travel ban on travelers from Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Iran. The new order, effective March 16, replaces a similar executive order Trump signed in January, but which had been blocked by federal courts. Students and workers at UGA and other schools had worried about how the earlier ban would affect their family and professional travel in the future. UGA has relatively few students from the affected countries. UGA's commitment promise, posted on a UGA listserv, was included with a statement on the ban from University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley.
 
U. of Florida student body president-elect charged in Key West motorcycle meltdown
The University of Florida's Student Body President-elect was arrested by Key West police after they say he drunkenly tried to climb onto several parked motorcycles, then knocked them over when he couldn't start them. William Smith Meyers, 22, of Tampa's Davis Islands area, was charged with criminal mischief/vandalism Tuesday, an arrest report said. Meyers was elected student body president late last month after serving as UF's student senate president. He ran with the campaign slogan "Character that counts." The police report said Meyers was so drunk he didn't realize he was in Key West, the officer's report said, telling the officer he was trying to get home to Clearwater. UF spokesman John Hines said university officials are aware of the arrest, but that a misdemeanor charge, in general, wouldn't affect any student's status.
 
It cost $9 million to attract a top engineer to A&M: Was that worth it?
Professor Thomas Overbye, a star of electrical engineering, never dreamed he would leave the University of Illinois. But a $4.5 million grant from Gov. Greg Abbott's signature higher education initiative helped persuade the member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering to move south to Texas A&M University. "I was surprised -- no one was more surprised than myself," he said. "Texas A&M was the only position that I seriously considered during my time at Illinois." For Abbott, that's a thrill. But it also highlights the political struggle shaping up around the future of the recruitment fund. A&M had to match the $4.5 million grant, bringing Overbye's total recruitment costs to $9 million. That money won't go into the professor's pocket; it will go toward supporting his research in College Station. But in a world of rising tuition and declining state support for higher education, the money could help pay for a year's tuition for hundreds of low-income Aggies.
 
U. of Missouri budget cuts mirror a national trend of higher education slashing
Consistent slashing of state funding, a mid-year budget shortfall and an increasingly arduous struggle to recruit and retain top faculty and students. That's a short list of the problems facing public higher education in Missouri. But if university presidents across the country saw it, they might think it was about their schools instead. On Jan. 18, MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley sent a memo to faculty and staff announcing the university would have to make $20 million in cuts before June 30. The memo came a day after Gov. Eric Greitens announced $146 million in total cuts, including $80 million to higher education across the state. MU doesn't have to look far to find other schools facing a similar fate. Most of the 11 states with SEC schools have had to endure severe cuts of their own. Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander is worried his best faculty and students might not stick around.
 
U. of Missouri System outlook turns stable, retains S&P AA+ credit rating
Standard & Poor's Global Ratings is maintaining the University of Missouri System's AA+ credit rating and has revised the outlook for the system's overall credit rating to stable from the negative outlook it placed on the system's debt last year. "The revised outlook reflect's the system's recent and expected ongoing strong operating performance, fundraising and financial profile compared with peers despite some softening of enrollment at its Columbia campus, presidential turnover and prolonged negative media coverage," the S&P report reads. "We believe the system will experience a return to modest enrollment growth in the future and a steady financial profile and will develop a focused strategic plan under the guidance of its incoming president that will strengthen its position over time." Last year, the system's outlook was changed to negative after the resignations of MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and UM System President Tim Wolfe.
 
Repeal of Affordable Care Act could create new obstacles for low-income students
The Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act will have negative consequences for both adjuncts and other employees at many colleges, as well as for low-income students and academic medical centers, say observers of health care policy in higher education. The elimination of the employer mandate means that some institutions may choose not to continue offering health insurance to adjunct instructors who aren't full-time employees. The weakening of subsidies for Obamacare exchanges and -- eventually -- federal support for state Medicaid expansion will hurt the ability of many students to obtain insurance coverage, experts said. How those effects play out for each student will likely differ campus by campus and state by state.
 
Senate Does Away With Obama Teacher-Prep Regulations
Congress, in an effort to limit federal involvement in higher education, has voted to eliminate Obama-era regulations on teacher-preparation programs. The legislation, passed on Wednesday by the Senate on a 59-to-40 vote, is expected to be signed by President Trump. The House of Representatives approved the bill last month. The accountability system that would be affected by the legislation was put into effect in October by the Department of Education. It requires states to report on the success rate of teacher-training programs, partly on the basis of graduates' employment and evaluations of their work. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, praised Wednesday's vote in a statement. "Overturning this regulation says that states -- not a distant department in Washington, D.C. -- are responsible for evaluating whether a college's program gives teachers the skills they need to help their students learn," he said.
 
Health care debate critical to Mississippi
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "As the Republican majority in Washington begins to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act or 'Obamacare' with their American Health Care Act, it's important for Mississippians to remember that our state has a higher percentage of our population who are dependent on public health care or are uninsured than the rest of the nation. Specifically, Mississippi has 4 percent more of our state's population that is uninsured and 5 percent more dependent on public health care programs than the rest of the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's analysis of Census Bureau data. ...With baby boomers careening toward retirement and their golden years -- when the need for health care increases -- there will be no bigger issue. Republicans have the power to repeal Obamacare now, but with that comes the responsibility to replace that public health care delivery system with something more efficient, effective, and affordable. That will be far easier said than done."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State routs LSU in SEC tournament opener
Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 19 points, and 12th-seeded Mississippi State routed LSU 79-52 Wednesday night in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs (16-15) will play fifth-seeded Alabama on Thursday. Mississippi State now has won two straight for the first time since winning at Arkansas on Jan. 10, then beating Texas A&M on Jan. 14. The Bulldogs took advantage of playing LSU for the second time in five days, and they also snapped a three-game skid in the league tournament with their first win since their opening game in 2014 over Vanderbilt. Mississippi State jumped out to a big halftime lead just as the Bulldogs did in sweeping the regular season series between the teams.
 
Bulldogs bounce LSU from SEC Tournament
Mississippi State's bench played a vital role in the Bulldogs' opening game at the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs received 51 points from their reserves in a 79-52 win over LSU on Wednesday night. It was MSU's first victory at the event since 2014. "Tyson (Carter) in the first half came off (the bench) and gave us a big lift and knocked down a couple of big shots," said MSU coach Ben Howland. "He got us some momentum going offensively, which was really important for us. Then in the second half, I thought (Xavian) Stapleton did an outstanding job off the bench. He hit a couple of big 3's and was really active on the glass. It was a great overall team effort." MSU will play No. 5 seed Alabama on SEC Network 25 minutes following the conclusion of the Tennessee-Georgia game, which begins at noon.
 
Mississippi State cruises past LSU in SEC Tournament
Quinndary Weatherspoon had enough. He had just missed a short jumper with five minutes left in the first half, which was shaping up as an ugly one for Mississippi State. To that point, MSU had committed seven turnovers, shot three air balls, botched two dunks and threw an alley-oop pass that found no one. Despite all that, the Bulldogs trailed by only one. It was due time for MSU's leading scorer to take the game into his own hands. So on the ensuing possession after his miss, Weatherspoon made a steal at the top of the key and in transition flushed a one-handed dunk over Kieran Hayward. Next on defense, he forced Hayward to take a deep three. After the shot rimmed out, Weatherspoon tipped the ball into the hands of Xavian Stapleton. Weatherspoon then made a strong move and converted a layup despite two LSU defenders in the paint. Those were the first four points in a 13-0 run for MSU to end the first half.
 
MSU Notebook: Confident Carter steps up; Crimson Tide next
Tyson Carter has proven he is capable of having some big games for Mississippi State off the bench. The freshman guard from Starkville did just that in the Bulldogs' first round win over LSU at the SEC Tournament. Carter scored 18 points -- four off his career-high -- in 20 minutes on Wednesday. "I felt like my confidence was pretty high because I know we didn't want to go home from this tournament that early," Carter said. "I wanted to do whatever just to help the team." Carter scored 13 of his points in the first half and finished the game 7 of 14 shooting including four 3-pointers.
 
Alabama to face Mississippi State in SEC tourney
The 2017 Southeastern Conference basketball tournament didn't start with much excitement but at least it was merciful. The Mississippi State Bulldogs made sure that LSU head coach Johnny Jones, fired earlier this week, had no lingering goodbyes, rolling to a 79-52 win over the Tigers to advance to Thursday's second round of tournament play. MSU (16-15) will meet Alabama in that second-round game. "They're really a physical team so we've got a big challenge ahead of us," said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. "They pound you inside, they try to post up. We have to get ready for a knock-down, drag-out. Tonight, we did a good job of digging ourselves out of a couple of holes that we put ourselves in by having slow starts in both halves. But we can't have such slow starts tomorrow."
 
Mississippi State must match Alabama's physicality in second round
After beating LSU Wednesday for the third time this season, Mississippi State will try to avoid experiencing the identical fate as the Tigers on Thursday in the second round of the SEC Tournament against Alabama. "This will be a big-time challenge for us," Ben Howland said. Alabama has been a problematic matchup for MSU because of the Crimson Tide's physicality. Alabama has also prioritized taking Quinndary Weatherspoon out of games and was effective in doing so. Alabama owns a 34.2 offensive rebounding percentage, which is higher than the national average of 29.3, according to Kenpom, so it is important for MSU center Schnider Herard to bounce back from a poor game against LSU.
 
LSU coach Johnny Jones: 'I haven't spoken with anyone' about job status
LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones said late Wednesday night he had not heard anything about his job status despite an Associated Press report, citing an unnamed source, that said he was out after five seasons. Reached by The Advocate at his downtown Nashville hotel, three hours after a 79-52 loss to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament, Jones again said he hadn't talked to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva. As of 11:30 p.m., Jones' stance hadn't changed from his postgame news conference, when he told reporters he had not had any conversations with Alleva --- including after the game that closed his team's 10-21 season. That came a day after several reports that Jones would be fired when the Tigers' stay in the SEC tournament ended. "I have not spoken with anyone," he told The Advocate late Wednesday night. "For whatever it's worth, I haven't spoken with anyone.
 
Why Alabama, Tennessee hired a New Jersey company for help on AD searches
Gene DeFilippo didn't want the job. The former Boston College and Villanova athletic director was enjoying retirement when Len Perna pitched him on joining Turnkey Sports & Entertainment. Perna wanted a piece of the lucrative college sports search industry and picked DeFilipo to lead the company's efforts. DeFilippo said no. "He wanted nothing to do with being an executive recruiter," said Perna who serves as Turnkey's president and chief executive officer. But after a little cajoling, DeFilippo relented and agreed to join the team as a managing director. With DeFilippo on board, Turnkey Search has quickly become a player in the competitive college search market, particularly in the Southeastern Conference. Since November, the New Jersey-based company placed football coach Ed Orgeron at LSU, athletic director Greg Byrne at Alabama and athletic director John Currie at Tennessee.
 
Kentucky fans make SEC Tournament ticket a pricey purchase
The blue-clad basketball nation consider games in Nashville to be home-court advantage, and they travel here like it is home, too. In fact, so many Kentucky basketball fans migrate the three hours south from Lexington -- and from all other corners of the country -- that the demand for tickets soars. That means, you guessed it, so do the ticket prices. This year, the average $399.28 price for the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament seats is higher than any other conference, according to ticket bidding site TickPick. Do you know who's willing to pay that price? Kentucky fans. Nashville's Bridgestone Arena has been the host site for the tournament four times in the last five years. Each time, the downtown strip on Broadway turns blue as the Wildcats' loyal fan base overtakes the city. Many make the trip without having tickets in hand. As teams begin to lose, the sidewalk often becomes a busy -- and lucrative -- place for scalpers. If they happen upon a Kentucky fan.
 
Why the Unraveling of Baylor's 'Golden Era' Isn't Over Yet
More than a dozen women say they were sexually assaulted as Baylor University made football its top priority. They, furious alumni and the authorities are seeking answers. The crisis has left Baylor alumni apoplectic, students outraged, donors turning on one another, and the Board of Regents bracing for the next blow. Lawsuits clutter the courts, with more than a dozen women claiming that they had been assaulted amid a campus culture that put them at risk. Collectively, the cases have become a cautionary parable for modern-day college athletics, one in which a Christian university seemed to lose sight of its core values in pursuit of football glory and protected gridiron heroes who preyed on women.



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