Monday, January 27, 2020   
Staying healthy: MSU health services director offers tips for beating flu, colds
A cold, the flu and other viruses can put a damper in anyone's schedule. As executive director of MSU's University Health Services, Dr. Cliff Story treats such illnesses daily, and he's offering simple tips that everyone can use to increase their chances of avoiding and beating "the bug." "Even though the flu has been bad in Mississippi, the South and the nation, the numbers on campus aren't as high as in other years based on what's come through the university's student health center," Story said. "For us, the peak usually feels like just after Christmas, through January and February. We've been seeing more of the B strain of flu. Flu A is the more typical strain that people think of when they think of a bad flu." Story said individuals of all ages can help prevent the spread of germs through basic hygiene, including proper handwashing.
Coming in February to the MSU Riley Center
The historic MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian begins its 2020 Spring/Summer Performing Arts Series with three performances in February: Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group, Aquila Theatre's adaptation of George Orwell's "1984" and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana's "Reflejos Flamencos." Tickets for each performance may be purchased at the MSU Riley Center Box Office, which is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and one hour before showtime. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 601-696-2200. The 2020 Springs/Summer Performing Arts Series will open with a true Texas experience presented by Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m.. Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company is sponsoring the return of this Meridian favorite to the Riley Center's restored Victorian theater.
Veteran journalist Randy Bell donates papers to Mississippi State
Mississippi State alumnus and veteran journalist Randy Bell donated his papers to the university's Mitchell Memorial Library in a ceremony Friday. Bell began working at Starkville's WKOR radio station while attending MSU. The 1974 communication graduate then pursued a career in broadcast journalism and went on to earn 23 national Edward R. Murrow Awards and 15 Radio Newsperson of the Year awards from the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters. His papers include news clips, photos, press passes and memorabilia collected throughout his career, which has spanned nine governors, four major hurricanes, three devastating floods, dozens of deadly tornadoes and an array of state and national elections. His archive, including an online component that allows users to listen to actual news recordings, becomes part of the Mississippi Journalism Collection in Mitchell Memorial's Special Collections department.
Monday Profile: Rao brings volunteer experience from India to MSU
Nagadarshan Rao had been speaking English for years when he arrived in the United States last year, but he wasn't completely fluent. Adjusting to the fast pace of native English speakers and the slang of the South was difficult at times, he said, but he has become more comfortable with the language over the past year and can give the Maroon Volunteer Center some of the credit for it. "I've met a lot of people who come from other states and I've shared memorable moments with them," said Rao, an aerospace engineering graduate student at Mississippi State University and a native of Bangalore in southern India. Maroon Volunteer Center coordinates service projects in the Starkville area and participates in the city's annual Day of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rao was brand new to MSU, Starkville and the United States when he participated in last year's Day of Service, and this year he served as a site leader, having accrued more than 150 service hours since then. He and another site leader led a group of 25 students in cleaning the Oktoc/District 5 Volunteer Fire Station on Oktoc Road in southeastern Oktibbeha County on Jan. 20.
Riders saddle up in Starkville to compete in Winter Barrel Race series
Age and experience are just numbers when you come ready to compete. Horsemen saddled up Sunday in Starkville to race the clock and each other in a winter series event. The Winter Barrel Race series is a series of events that have riders and their horses racing against time. Mississippi Horse Park Director Bricklee Miller said people from across the region saddle up to compete. "This event calls contestants here to compete in barrel racing that would normally not come to Starkville, Mississippi on a Sunday afternoon. We do have contestants from all over the state of Mississippi, even contestants from Tennessee and Alabama today," said Miller. Laura Flowers, 19, said the atmosphere at the Horse Park made the more than three-hour drive from Vicksburg worth her time. Flowers believes the Horse Park in Starkville is one of the best places in the region to ride.
Initial success leads to surveillance camera expansion around Starkville
The Board of Aldermen recently approved the lease of five new surveillance cameras to be installed in Starkville. Through close cooperation with the Starkville Police Department, the camera's installation and operation will be handled by the city's information technology department. Department head Joel Clements said the most recent five would go along with the 10 cameras installed last year as part of the plan to have cameras in 40 locations across Starkville by the end of 2023. "You'll see the map filled in pretty well in two and a half more years," Clements said. Police Chief Mark Ballard said the cameras had proven effective over the past year and had been vital to solving various types of crimes, including violent ones. Ballard said the first phase of cameras were put in locations where night entertainment and foot traffic were heavy, as data had shown those areas to be susceptible to crime.
Sun-n-Sand motel gets 'stay' of demolition
The Mississippi Heritage Trust says it has gotten a "stay" of demolition of the Sun-n-Sand Motel in downtown Jackson. The historic structure was bought in early 2019 by the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, which has plans to raze the building and increase parking space for government workers. But the Heritage Trust rallied support for saving the motel by circulating a petition that was signed by 2,600 people and presented to the Department of Archives and History. The department voted on Friday to give the Heritage Trust till June 1 "to get something serious on the table," trust spokeswoman Erica Speed said in a telephone message left with the Mississippi Business Journal. "We have a developer with a buyer ready to go. We also have a ... grant to conduct a feasibility study," Speed said. Famed Mississippi author Willie Morris wrote some of his book "My Cat Spit McGee" at the motel and noted it as the site of "many years [of] egregious political wheeling and dealing, not to mention secretive trysts." The motel was closed in 2001.
Analysis: Leadership team will shape the lawmaking process
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn has completed one of his most consequential tasks of the four-year legislative term -- choosing House committee members and leaders. The assignments were announced Thursday. They are crucial because committees get the first shot at deciding which policy proposals live or die. A chairman can quietly kill a bill by deciding not to bring it up for debate. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann announced committee assignments for the 52-member Senate on Jan. 10, during the first week of the legislative session. Gunn took nearly two weeks longer, but he had a more complicated job. The House has 122 members, and Gunn asked each of his 121 colleagues to fill out a form showing which committees they would like to join and to rank those choices in order of preference. He said he would try to give people some of their top choices, to the extent possible.
Mississippi governor giving his 1st State of the State
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is giving his first State of the State address on Monday, less than two weeks after he was inaugurated. Governors generally use the State of the State to discuss the economy and to outline goals for the legislative session. The speech is set for 5 p.m. Monday at the state Capitol, and it will be carried live by Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Reeves, a Republican, is expected to discuss problems in the state prison system -- an issue that has absorbed much of his time during his first days in office. Reeves and other officials toured part of Parchman last week, and he said Thursday that the state is taking immediate steps to try to improve living conditions that he described as "terrible."
Local representatives appointed to State House and Senate committees
The 2020 Mississippi legislative session began earlier this month and with it came new appointments to House of Representative and Senate committees on Jan. 10. Three of the five area representatives for the LOU Community were appointed to serve on several committees that cover many of the issues affecting Lafayette County. In the House, Representatives Steve Massengill and Jim Beckett are serving on a combined 15 committees and both are members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Public Utilities Committee. Newly-elected District 9 senator Nicole Boyd is serving on nine committees: Education; Finance; Housing; Insurance; Judiciary, Division A; Technology; Tourism; Universities and Colleges.
Local leaders get top positions in Mississippi Legislature
State legislators representing Adams County were recently selected to chair several committees in the Mississippi House of Representatives and Mississippi State Senate. District 97 Rep. Sam C. Mims V, R-McComb, has been reappointed Chairman of the Public Health and Human Services Committee. Mims said he would also serve on the Appropriations, Judiciary A, and Medicaid committees "It's an honor to continue the chairmanship of Public Health and Human Services, and I appreciate the speaker's confidence in reappointing me," Mims said. "I think we've really made progress in available quality healthcare over the past several years, and I look forward to continue to work with my colleagues in the House to improve the quality of life for all Mississippians." Mississippi District 94 Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, was recently selected the Mississippi House Democratic leader.
Children with disabilities losing Medicaid coverage
Lawmakers were right: People ineligible for Medicaid in Mississippi have been receiving the health care benefit anyway. But they aren't adults scamming the system. They're children with disabilities, whose middle-class parents relied on the public health insurance loophole to afford expensive monthly medical treatments. Because of a recent crackdown on Medicaid eligibility, many families who had been receiving the Disabled Child Living at Home waiver have been denied the benefits when they've tried to renew them. Following outcry from parents, lawmakers are now working on legislation to restore coverage to the affected families.
Starkville man found dead in Parchman
A Starkville man serving an armed robbery sentence became the latest inmate to die in a Mississippi Department of Corrections facility. Joshua Antonio Norman, 26, was found hanging in his one-person cell in Unit 29 of the state penitentiary in Parchman on Sunday morning. No foul play is suspected, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said. His body has been transferred to the state medical examiner in Pearl, and official cause and manner of death will be determined after an autopsy. Norman was serving a five-year sentence for armed robbery, for which he was sentenced April 30, 2019, in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court. The charge came from a February incident where he was accused of burglarizing a residence on County Lake Road.
'There was not the remotest chance this would convince me Donald Trump deserved to be removed,' Wicker says of trial
Only a handful of U.S. senators participated in the past two presidential impeachments. Roger Wicker, the senior senator from Mississippi, is one of them. A longtime Tupelo resident and conservative, Wicker is also a staunch defender of President Donald Trump. This week, despite strongly asserting that he does not agree with Democrats that the president committed impeachable offenses, Wicker has appeared committed to intently listening to Democratic prosecutors' case. After the U.S. House of Representatives voted in December 2019 to impeach Trump, seven House members are now presenting their case to the Senate, which will in coming days decide whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. On what was expected to be the final day of Democratic arguments, Wicker sat down with Mississippi Today moments before the day's proceedings began to discuss his approach to the impeachment trial, whether he's been impartial and how historians may recall the moment.
Romney says Bolton may upend Republican fight against witnesses
It's "increasingly likely" that more Republicans will join calls to seek testimony from John Bolton in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Sen. Mitt Romney said on Monday, with Bolton's new revelations throwing into doubt how Trump's trial will proceed. Just days ago, the Senate GOP appeared ready to defeat a vote to hear more witnesses sought by Democrats. But that dynamic appears shaken after Trump's former national security adviser revealed in an upcoming book that the president allegedly told him directly that he withheld aid to Ukraine because he wanted the country to investigate his political rivals. Senior Republicans and Democrats alike are unsure whether the president will still get a quick acquittal with no new witnesses before week's end.
House members considering ending ban on earmarks
House appropriators are considering lifting a nearly 10-year ban on congressionally directed spending, known as earmarks. While no decisions have been made, a House Democratic aide said lawmakers are in the "early stages" of considering allowing earmarks in spending bills for the coming fiscal year. "There is considerable interest in allowing members of Congress to direct funding for important projects in their communities," the source said. Earmarks have been banned in the House since 2011, when a Republican majority ended the practice of inserting special projects in spending bills because of concerns about corruption. But in recent years, lawmakers have cautiously expressed growing interest in lifting the ban with new safeguards. Supporters of a policy change say earmarks can help build broader political support for a spending bill and could smooth the appropriations process. Critics worry that earmarks would again allow for special favors and corruption.
Scientists are unraveling the Chinese coronavirus with unprecedented speed and openness
Just 10 days after a pneumonia-like illness was first reported among people who visited a seafood market in Wuhan, China, scientists released the genetic sequence of the coronavirus that sickened them. That precious bit of data, freely available to any researcher who wanted to study it, unleashed a massive collaborative effort to understand the mysterious new pathogen that has been rapidly spreading in China and beyond. The genome was posted on a Friday night on an open-access repository for genetic information. By Saturday morning, Andrew Mesecar, a professor of cancer structural biology at Purdue University, had redirected his laboratory to start analyzing the DNA sequence, which bore a striking resemblance to that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the 2002 viral outbreak that sickened more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana asked a company to turn the information from a string of letters on a computer screen into actual DNA they could study in lab dishes.
Democratic candidates are promising student loan debt forgiveness, but do voters care?
When Sarah Brewster's car broke down a couple months ago, the 26-year-old therapist panicked. She didn't have $800 in cash to fix it, and the thought of a car loan overwhelmed her. How could she fit in another bill when she's already living paycheck to paycheck, desperately trying to pay down her student debt? Like many Americans also crippled by student loans, Brewster's been making sacrifices since she graduated: She put off her wedding for two years and once she and her husband, Ryan, finally got married in November 2018, they decided they couldn't afford a honeymoon. For Christmas, they budgeted for just one gift apiece. Ryan, a firefighter, is saddled with his own debt from a two-year program. Sarah alone owes $50,000. And with student loan payments of $700 a month, or almost as much as their monthly $1000 rent, they're worried they can't afford to have children. Brewster, a Bernie Sanders supporter, says she will absolutely be thinking about student debt as she heads to the ballot box this year and that "I would like to hope that people my age would be more likely to vote because of it." She might not have much company.
The W to host fourth annual II+C Symposium
A noted artist will join a renowned scientist for a keynote address to kick off the fourth annual Imagine, Inspire, Challenge Symposium Feb. 6 and 7 at Mississippi University for Women. This year's conference is titled "Stem Cell Therapies in 2020: Healing, Hope or Hype." During a 7 p.m. keynote in Whitfield Auditorium Thursday, Feb. 6, Houston, Texas-based transdisciplinary artist Dario Robleto will join MUW alumna Dr. Doris A. Taylor, director of regenerative medicine at the Texas Heart Institute, for a conversation on the deep connections between art and science, focusing in particular on Taylor's groundbreaking research in trying to create a functioning human organ. Featuring both visuals and discussion, the keynote is themed "The Art and Science of Building a Human Heart."
UMMC enters air ambulance partnership; Med-Trans will take over aviation, billing
University of Mississippi Medical Center is partnering with a private, for-profit medical transport partner to operate AirCare service. Med-Trans, which operates in 26 states, will provide helicopters, equipment and pilots for the AirCare bases in Jackson, Meridian, Columbus and Greenwood. The partnership allows AirCare to provide advanced emergency medical care and continue to build on its education and research mission, said Dr. Damon Darsey, medical director of UMMC's Mississippi Center for Emergency Services. "Med-Trans is an aviation partner that can help us match our aviation innovation and service to the clinical advances we have experienced," said Darsey, an associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics in a press release. "It's more than transporting a patient or flying life-saving care to wherever it's needed. It's improving the system of care to make sure that the right patient gets to the right place."
Belhaven scholarship honors young adult fiction author Angie Thomas
A university is creating scholarships to honor one of its graduates who is the author of bestselling young adult novels. The Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship program will be at Belhaven University, based in Jackson. Thomas wrote "The Hate U Give," about an African American teenager who sees a police officer shoot and kill her best friend, and "On the Come Up," about a young rapper who finds her identity and confronts stereotypes through music. One creative writing major at Belhaven will receive a scholarship to cover all expenses for tuition, room and board for four years, the university said in a news release Thursday. Other top applicants may receive smaller awards. Thomas graduated from Belhaven with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2011.
Auburn University Culinary Center construction begins
City and Auburn University officials are rolling up their sleeves and getting ready for more construction in downtown Auburn, while school officials are excited about new culinary offerings to come. The new Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center project at the corner of East Thach Avenue and South College Street will affect students and residents alike. "[The Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center] is an educational center that is going to provide for a mix of theory and hands-on practice in a very direct sense," said Martin O'Neill, department head and professor of nutrition, dietetics & hospitality management in the college of human sciences. The program has used the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center to train students in the past.
UGA student designs winning 'Kinda Tiny' home
There is no technical definition of a tiny house, but the working understanding is a home that is 400 square feet or smaller. So what is a "Kinda Tiny" home? Well, it's a little bit bigger, but not much. The home design that won Athens' first "Kinda Tiny" housing competition was 794 square feet and designed by UGA student Jacqueline Menke, who is currently finishing up a Master of Landscape Architecture at the College of Environment and Design. The contest was the brainchild of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and Georgia's U.S. Green Building Council, and the home designed by Menke is currently under construction in Athens. The family selected by Habitat will move into the house this spring. The average size of a home in the United States has doubled since the 1960s to 2,600 square feet, but there is a movement underway to embrace smaller, more energy efficient homes.
MLK speaker at U. of Missouri: 'One man can make a difference'
Being told you don't belong should motivate you to prove that you do, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd on Thursday told a crowd in the Missouri Theatre. It worked for her, she said. "There will always be people who discredit you and discount you," Boyd said during the University of Missouri's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Around 660 attended the event in the 1,200-seat theater as snow fell outside. Boyd is a motivational speaker and a promoter of education. Her professional career at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory included work on nuclear submarines and spanned more than three decades. She was the first African-American woman to earn a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Yale University. She became Alabama State University's first female president in 2014, leaving in 2017.
Some colleges report possible coronavirus cases; experts emphasize importance of planning
The coronavirus has come to U.S. campuses. Arizona public health officials announced Sunday that "a member of the Arizona State community who does not live in university housing" had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The person had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Baylor University announced that one of its students was being tested by public health officials. Baylor said the student had recently traveled to China. As of Sunday evening there had been five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., including the case of the individual connected to Arizona State. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those infected with the virus experience mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, coughing and shortness of breath. CDC officials believe the symptoms can manifest as few as two or as many as 14 days after exposure. The CDC said it considers the virus a serious public health threat and that outbreaks of novel viruses are always a cause for concern. Nonetheless, the agency considers the immediate risk to the American public to be low at this time.
A virus, fires and protests: The perils confronting college study-abroad programs
A novel, potentially lethal virus in China. Bush fires in Australia. Political protests in Hong Kong. Amid turmoil in different corners of the world, universities that send students to far-flung destinations have temporarily curtailed some programs while closely monitoring others. Nine American University students studying in Beijing are hundreds of miles from the center of a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. But they have been encouraged to wear surgical masks, wash their hands frequently and avoid large crowds, said Mark Hayes, director of the school's study-abroad programs. "None of them are in the affected areas that have been quarantined," Hayes said. "We have been working to give them information." But even before the emergence of a new coronavirus was widely recognized, several campuses in the District -- American, Catholic, George Washington and Georgetown universities -- were suspending academic programs for another reason: explosive protests in Hong Kong that have gained international attention.
Discussion about the future of the academy
David Staley believes the university's future has yet to be determined. While punditry about higher education suggests otherwise, said Staley, director of the Humanities Institute and an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, the academy has the power to imagine a different future from the headline-grabbing innovations of online learning, upskilling and mega-university models. "Ours is a particularly fertile moment to imagine something new," he said to a packed room Friday at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington. Staley and others were discussing what the "college of the future" might look like. Johann Neem, chair of the history department at Western Washington University, said a key piece of that imagining is to separate the academy from the university.
Will there really be a 'coming together' in Jackson this year?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: In his inauguration speech new Gov. Tate Reeves promised, "This will be an administration for all Mississippi," as reported by the Clarion-Ledger. "Governing is about coming together," he said and proclaimed a new motto for his first term, "For. All. Mississippi." Faced with his first crisis as governor -- prison rioting, deaths, and deplorable conditions -- Reeves appeared to be on track with his promise. He appointed a bipartisan committee to lead a national search for the next prison commissioner with the Mayor of Vicksburg, former state Rep. George Flaggs, as chairman. ... Meanwhile, new Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann also exhibited some bipartisanship in his appointment of Senate committee chairs, naming Democrats to chair 13 of the Senate's 42 committees.
Legislative rule limits lawmakers' ability to boost spending for underfunded agencies
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: If history repeats itself, it is likely that legislators will vote in the coming days to limit their ability to have input in perhaps their most important function -- funding state government. The state currently boasts more than $1 billion in reserve funds -- money in the so-called rainy day fund and in other funds -- yet, the average rank-and-file legislator under rules in place for the past eight years cannot offer an amendment to spend that money. Members cannot offer an amendment to take any of those funds to add more money, for instance, to the budget for the troubled Department of Corrections or to add more funds for efforts to deal with the state's beleaguered foster care system. A rule adopted by Republicans in 2012 when they took control of both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature for the first time since the 1800s requires a member when trying to boost spending for one agency to specify from which agency he or she is taking the money. The rule makes it difficult to add additional money to a budget bill because legislators do not want to take funds from one underfunded agency to boost spending for another.
Fiscal, Political Realities Align Against Medicaid Expansion in Mississippi
Frank Corder writes for Y'all Politics: Barring significant financial or political changes in the State of Mississippi, Medicaid Expansion in the Magnolia State is unlikely any time soon. Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the federal government agreed to pay for the entire cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years after its passage. However, states were required to pay 5% of the cost after 2017 if they then chose to expand the government run insurance program, and now if states seek the expansion, their buy-in increases from 5% to 10%. That equates to roughly $100 million extra per year. Initially Medicaid had no buy-in required. Now the state would have a 10% price tag attached. Medicaid expansion does not solve the issue of uncompensated care for hospitals, nor is it a cure all for the financial realities facing Mississippi health care providers. Medicaid expansion would put taxpayers on the hook to a far greater extent than they are now to provide for funding of the government run health insurance program. That's partially because in every state that has expanded, far more people take advantage than are anticipated. And many who are eligible for private insurance put further stress on Medicaid by switching.

No. 9 Mississippi State blows out Ole Miss, 80-39
It took most of four quarters but Ole Miss finally surpassed Mississippi State in points. The trouble is, it was the Bulldogs' total from the opening quarter. Ninth-ranked MSU scored 30 first-quarter points in an 80-39 rout of the Rebels in front of 9,503 at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. "I was really proud of how we jumped out early 30-6 in the first quarter" said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "We were attacking, making shots and defending. We had 24 assists on 31 made baskets." As impressive as the Bulldogs' offense was early, their defense deserves some credit as well. State limited the Rebels to single digits scoring (6, 8, 8) in the first three quarters. The victory was the 12th straight for State (18-3, 6-1 SEC) in the series and also its largest margin of victory over Ole Miss (7-13, 0-7 SEC). MSU continues its homestand on Thursday with Auburn while the Rebels will host top-ranked South Carolina. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.
Mississippi State women dismantle Ole Miss as Kobe Bryant's death looms over game
As the basketball community mourned the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash with his 13 year-old daughter Gianna and several others Sunday morning, a gaggle of Mississippi State students gathered in the front row of the student section at Humphrey Coliseum. Awaiting the beginning of MSU's (18-3, 6-1 SEC) 80-39 dismantling of Ole Miss (7-13, 0-7 SEC), the 10 shirtless college students turned their backs to the court to reveal the numbers 8 and 24 -- Bryant's numbers during his 20-year run with the Los Angeles Lakers -- as an ode to the dynamic guard. Back in the MSU locker room, coach Vic Schaefer addressed his squad in the wake of the tragedy. "All I have is the words I told my team before we hit the floor," Schaefer recounted postgame. "'Embrace the day, embrace the moment. Don't take anything for granted.'" With Bryant's loss looming large in Starkville and beyond, the Bulldogs enjoyed a dynamic offensive display reminiscent of the departed guard as they downed the Rebels by double digits for the seventh straight meeting.
Mississippi State, Ole Miss mourn loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant
Nine shirtless males stood in the front row of the Mississippi State student section at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. In gold lettering with black backgrounds, their torsos said "#GIVE EM HAIL." That was planned well in advance of Mississippi State's women's basketball game against Ole Miss. What was written on the boys' backs was not. The numbers eight and 24 alternated from one back to the next across the line. On a day two rivals clashed on the court for the first of two meetings this season, the moment didn't solely belong to the Magnolia State programs. It also belonged to Kobe Bryant. Sunday's score, a 80-39 rout for Mississippi State, was consequential in conference standings and in the grand scheme of this 2019-20 season. No. 9 Mississippi State moved to 18-3 overall and 6-1 in SEC play with the victory. But in the world of basketball, the proceedings in the Magnolia State paled in comparison to what occurred in the Golden State just a few hours before MSU and Ole Miss played their game.
Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: Feds probing helicopter maintenance records, pilot history, fog
Federal investigators on Monday began to try to unravel the mystery of why a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people slammed into the side of a hill in Calabasas. Authorities said the investigation is now wide-ranging, including looking at the histories of the pilot, helicopter maintenance records and the foggy conditions, which pilots have said add a level of danger. Firefighters responding to a 911 call at 9:47 a.m. Sunday found a debris field in steep terrain with a quarter-acre brush fire. Paramedics arriving by helicopter searched the area but found no survivors. Bryant, who lived in Newport Beach and Los Angeles, was known to keep a chartered helicopter at Orange County's John Wayne Airport. Parts of Southern California were enveloped in thick fog as the helicopter made its way from Orange County to Los Angeles.
'It's expected': Mississippi State baseball believes it has College World Series potential
You can't miss the letters from where Chris Lemonis was sitting. They're big. They're bold. They're lit up in maroon and white on the wall in the back of the room. They spell out "O-M-A-H-A." Lemonis sat at the front of the room, appropriately named the Omaha Room, inside Dudy Noble Field on Saturday morning. Reporters from various media outlets sat in theater-style seats directly across from him. It's the middle of basketball season, but baseball's opening day is less than three weeks away. For a university that prides itself on being a baseball school, it's not surprising Lemonis' press conference lasted nearly three times as long as MSU men's basketball coach Ben Howland's did the day before. Lemonis would have gone longer if the presser wasn't cut short so he could get out onto the field for practice, too. He answered questions about his first season in Starkville, about losing departed seniors Jake Mangum and Elijah MacNamee, about various position groups like pitchers and catchers, etc.
NOTEBOOK: Mississippi State tries to revamp pitching rotation
Mississippi State is missing two-thirds of its weekend pitching rotation from a year ago. But the one pitcher that is still around is certainly a solid starter the Bulldogs can build the rest of their staff around. Former first round draft pick JT Ginn moves up a day to be the Friday night ace while MSU turns to Christian MacLeod and Eric Cerantola to round of the rotation. "We have a chance to have a dynamic pitching staff but a couple of them haven't done it yet," said MSU skipper Chris Lemonis. "That's the piece that we have to find out, what happens between the lines. We all know JT and feel like we can go Friday night with anybody in the country with JT." Ginn was named the National Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game last season going 8-4 with a 3.13 earned run average across 17 starts. The right-hander fanned 105 batters and only walked 19 in 86 1/3 innings of work. Bulldog coaches were beaming about MacLeod in 2019 as well. However, the 6-foot-4 southpaw was forced to sit out last season after contracting mononucleosis.
Pitching questions loom as Mississippi State baseball prepares for 2020 season
With fans clambering through the wells of the Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday to set up their rigs for the upcoming season, Mississippi State baseball hosted its annual media day as reporters met with coach Chris Lemonis and the 2020 squad. Fresh off back-to-back trips to the College World Series, the Bulldogs enter the season ranked No. 9 in Baseball America's preseason rankings -- one of seven Southeastern Conference teams slotted in the initial top 25 poll. Speaking with the media for the first time this year, Lemonis highlighted MSU's vast talent at the plate anchored by juniors Jordan Westburg, Justin Foscue, Tanner Allen, Rowdey Jordan and Josh Hatcher. But question marks surround a pitching staff that must replace first-round MLB draft pick Ethan Small and reliable relievers Cole Gordon, Jared Leibelt and Colby White. "We have so many new guys; we have 22 new guys in the program, so trying to figure out our arms is huge," Lemonis said. "Hopefully, we settle into some guys." While the offense should remain a staple in 2020, Lemonis' pitching staff is one filled with unknowns.
Mississippi State's JT Ginn, Justin Foscue gain more All-American honors
Mississippi State sophomore pitcher JT Gray and junior second baseman Justin Foscue earned their fourth preseason All-American selection on Monday, this time from Baseball America. Ginn garnered a spot on the first team as well as being recognized as having the "best fastball movement" and the "best athlete (pitcher)". The right-hander went 8-4 last season with a 3.13 earned run average and 105 strikeouts in 86 innings of work. Foscue was a second team selection and hit .331 with a team-best 14 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Ginn and Foscue were also named All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, and Perfect Game.
Louisiana Tech games, tournament help to revitalize Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson
Smith-Wills Stadium has had a host of tenants since it opened in 1975, from high school teams in the Jackson area to Double-A professional baseball. This spring, it's going to be one of the busiest college baseball hubs in Mississippi. KSG-Overtime Sports, which manages the facility, has announced plans for a three-day tournament and for Louisiana Tech to play three Conference USA series there this season. Belhaven University also will play 19 home games there between February and April. "Our plan is to renovate and create a place where local high schools, colleges and universities from all over the country are invited to come and play games at Mississippi's oldest professional baseball facility -- Smith-Wills Stadium -- and get a taste of true southern hospitality," Overtime Sports owner and founder Tim Bennett said.

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