Tuesday, February 4, 2020   
'An American perspective': Mississippi State displays 19th century cannon outside Grant Library
Duffy Neubauer, the curator of the Starkville Civil War Arsenal and a self-proclaimed "cannon guy," was cleaning the barrel of a Model 1841 "6-pounder" cannon in December when he came across something he didn't expect. "I had some tools (so) reached down in there ... and produced this three-inch Confederate round," Neubauer said Monday, holding up the projectile for a crowd of a few dozen spectators to see at the unveiling of the cannon, which now sits outside the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University's campus. The cannon is on loan indefinitely to MSU from Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter. Produced in 1846, the cannon would have been used in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, said MSU President Mark Keenum, who also serves on MDAH's board of trustees. The cannon caught Keenum's eye while he was touring the basement of a Jackson museum which stored historical artifacts. He reached out to MDAH about loaning it to MSU for display outside Grant Presidential Library.
Former Mississippi State AD Greg Byrne talks college sports at Rotary
The Starkville Rotary Club heard from a familiar face and longtime college athletic director at its meeting on Monday. Current University of Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne, who is serving as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics spoke to the club, sharing stories and discussing the current state of college athletics. Byrne is no stranger to Starkville, having served as Mississippi State University's athletic director from 2008 to 2010. He has also served as athletic director for the University of Arizona. He holds a bachelor's from Arizona State University and a master's from MSU. He spoke to the current state of college athletics and the need for programs to adapt. "That's one of those things that we fight on a daily basis is trying to thread that needle to continue to reinvest in your success," Byrne said.
Colleges, Universities Struggle to Compete for Faculty
Mississippi College Board Commissioner Alfred Rankins told the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee that between 2017 and 2019, surrounding states increased their funding for higher education, while Mississippi's declined by nearly 11 percent. Rankins is requesting 10 percent more for colleges and universities which would put their funding at $733 million dollars for fiscal year 2021. "If we want higher paying jobs. If we want salaries to go up in the state. If we want our communities to thrive and do better and the quality of life for all of our citizens to increase, I think our universities play a vital role," said Rankins. Presidents of the state's eight universities discussed the challenges of attracting and retaining faculty. Senator Jenifer Branning of Philadelphia heads the appropriations sub-committee. "We want Mississippi to improve in all aspects of our economy and I think starting with IHL (Institutions of Higher Learning) is a very good place to do so," said Branning.
4-H preparing kids for more than raising farm animals
Sawyer Smith is five years old. He brought his lamb, Shaggy, to show in the 4-H competitions at the state fairgrounds in the days leading up to the Dixie National. "He's cute and he stays in Hayden's trailer and we keep him at home in Mama's bathroom," Sawyer said. He's one of hundreds of kids from all over the state bringing their animals and their personalities to the show. The importance of programs like 4-H and the Future Farmers of America is that they instill certain character qualities in young people they might not get elsewhere, according to Clarke County Mississippi State Extension Service Agent Christy King. "We want them to learn about their livestock project, but we also want them to learn decision making and responsibility and character and ethics," King said. "These are all things we use the animal to teach the kids."
Oktibbeha County supervisors select firm for Blackjack Road improvements
After years of effort, bids for the reconstruction and improvement of Blackjack Road arrived at the end of January. Oktibbeha County Supervisors were presented with four bids to repair and widen the road during their Monday meeting by County Engineer Clyde Pritchard. The lowest bid came in at approximately $7.2 million while the highest bid was roughly $10.3 million. The contracting company who made the lowest bid, Maben-based Site Masters Construction, raised alarms with some supervisors as complaints, as well as a lawsuit, have emerged from projects done by the company in the past. Supervisors looked to the second lowest bid, which came from Columbus-based Burns Dirt Construction and was about $8 million. Pritchard said he had much more experience working with Burns than Site Masters. "I don't know if I can count all the work they have done," Pritchard said. "I have never had a problem with Burns Dirt Construction." Ultimately, supervisors did award the bid to Burns Dirt Construction.
Local museum to honor Black History Month with exhibit Thursday
African American leaders Frank Dowsing and Sam Bell will be among several featured in the Oren Dunn City Museum's Black History Exhibit from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. "Tupelo has a rich heritage. The African American community is a significant contributor to the Tupelo story," said Oren Dunn City Museum curator Leesha Faulkner. Dowsing will receive the Spirit of Tupelo designation and an exhibit. He was one of the first African American students to integrate Tupelo High School and was one of two African American football players recruited by Mississippi State University, where he was an athletic and academic standout, Faulkner said.
Strong storms could bring high winds, hail to parts of South
A system of strong storms could bring damaging wind gusts and hail to parts of the Deep South, forecaster say. The most severe storms on Tuesday could form in Arkansas and Louisiana and western parts of Mississippi and Tennessee, according to the national Storm Prediction Center. Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama will also have some risk of severe weather on Tuesday, forecasters said. The threat of powerful storms will shift to the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, when dangerous weather will be possible over southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi, south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, the Storm Prediction Center is projecting. Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee could also see some stormy weather on Wednesday.
Backwater pumps could take five years to build, Corps engineer says
If the Environmental Protection Agency gave its blessing to install the Steele Bayou pumps immediately, it would be five years before they would be ready to relieve backwater flooding, a Corps of Engineers official said Saturday. "If it is approved, and when it's approved, and they throw the packet across the fence to us, it will probably take close to two years to design and close to two years to construct," said Henry Dulaney, chief of the engineering and construction division for the Corps' Vicksburg District. "If they gave us today approval to do it, it's going to be several years before you would see it in action," he said. The Steele Bayou pump station, which was to be built on the Steele Bayou Control Structure to help protect the South Delta from flooding, was vetoed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008. The pump station is the final piece of the Yazoo Backwater Project that was authorized by Congress in 1941.
Lowndes County could land $200M solar farm project
A $200 million solar farm that would both generate and store electric power could come to Lowndes County after supervisors approved a resolution of intent Monday morning to offer a fee-in-lieu agreement to help bring the power company to the area. MS Solar 5, a Delaware-based branch of solar energy company Origis Development, is considering Lowndes County as the location for its facility, said Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK. The final decision rests with the company and the Tennessee Valley Authority, the latter of which will have to award the contract to the company for it to come to the county, Higgins said. The LINK does not usually disclose an incoming company's real name until a deal is finalized, Higgins said, but Origis reached out to the LINK last week asking to be unveiled. "Normally we ... will use a code name," Higgins said. "(But Origis) said, 'Hey, we are ready. We wanna come out of the closet. We wanna tell everybody who we are.'"
Tech firm: Mississippi must require computer science classes
A telecommunications company is pushing Mississippi lawmakers to require schools to teach computer science classes. C Spire ran a TV ad during the Super Bowl with actors portraying economic development officials in other states thanking Mississippi for not requiring computer science. The ad says Mississippi is losing high-paying tech jobs to Georgia and other places. C Spire spokesman Dave Miller said the Ridgeland-based company has pushed for more computer science training in Mississippi elementary and high schools for several years, sponsoring coding camps and scholarships. "Our future, our growth is really tied to the success and growth of the state," Miller told the Clarion Ledger. Company officials said legislative action is needed to require the curriculum for Mississippi's economy to keep pace with other states.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann seeks state employee raises to increase competitiveness
Mississippi Senators began to tackle the first step to pay raises this year with SB 2001, the teacher pay raise bill. However, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann has indicated those won't be the only raises coming out of the Legislature this year. Hosemann said the raise for teachers, that passed out of the Education Committee last week and now heads to Appropriations, was just the beginning. Other state employees are on the list for consideration before the end of the 2020 Session. "Our teachers are our start but we have other state employees that are woefully and inadequately under-compensated," said Hosemann said during a press conference to address the teacher pay raise bill. Hosemann said he was told over 1,000 state employees working full time are making less than $20,000, a salary, he says, that is simply not economically feasible. He said it is important that state jobs be competitive with the private sector.
Secretary of State Michael Watson meets with Lauderdale County election officials
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson made a stop in Lauderdale County Monday, part of a statewide tour to meet with election officials. Watson, a former state senator who was elected in November, plans to visit every county. He spent time with Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson and Election Commissioners Awana Simmons, Gloria Dancy and Chuck Overby. "We want to make sure that we got good, clean, fair elections that are secure, and so having that dialogue and that line of discussion with them is important and so they know how to get in touch with us when they need it," Watson said. "It's really a relationship-building...listening tour." They discussed poll watcher guidelines, the challenges of finding poll workers, what works in Lauderdale County and what election officials need to do the job.
Northside state senator David Blount tours Parchman prison
The following is a report from Northside state senator David Blount on his tour of Parchman prison: On Friday I joined a group of legislators led by Sen. Angela Turner Ford, Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, on a tour of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. At least eight people have died at Parchman in the past month; more than a dozen have died in Mississippi prisons this year. It is a crisis. We met with the Superintendent of the prison who reports to the Commissioner of Corrections and to the Governor. We asked lots of questions, and he answered all of them in a straightforward manner. ... The problems with Mississippi's correctional system are complex and demand a response. The crisis at Parchman and in our prisons is immense, but the real problem is even bigger than that. We need to re-think what prison is for (public safety and keeping violent and dangerous people out of society) and what are effective means of punishment and justice.
With a tough challenge looming, Cindy Hyde-Smith has raised less money than 96 U.S. senators
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing a potentially contentious general election challenge, but the only sitting senators who have raised less cash than her are retiring from politics. Hyde-Smith has raised $1.3 million this cycle, which is less than 96 of the nation's 100 senators. The three senators who have raised less than Hyde-Smith this cycle -- Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming -- announced last year they would not seek re-election in 2020. Despite the low fundraising marks so far this cycle, Hyde-Smith holds at least a $600,000 cash advantage over the next closest candidate for the seat she holds, according to Friday's campaign finance reports that include fundraising and spending for the last quarter of 2019. "Sen. Hyde-Smith is the only senator up for re-election who faced a competitive election just over a year ago," Hyde-Smith campaign spokesman Justin Brasell said in a statement. "We are very pleased with the level of support for 2020 campaign, which is just beginning."
Trump's USDA seeks to cut programs without knowing how many people will be hurt
In a rare bipartisan move last June, Republicans and Democrats teamed up to scuttle an Agriculture Department proposal that would have shuttered job training centers for at-risk youth across the country -- an idea that blindsided lawmakers and seemed to lack much explanation or underlying data. Rep. Dan Newhouse blasted Secretary Sonny Perdue's plan, which he said would close some of the highest-performing facilities in the popular program, contrary to USDA's claims. "It appears the administration's rollout of this proposal was done carelessly -- and without the data or the statistics to point to any rhyme or reason as to how the decisions were made," the Washington Republican said at a committee hearing. Perdue called off the site closures soon after. But the hasty rollout and bipartisan backlash pointed to a problem that has repeatedly dogged the department: Many of USDA's recent actions have been marred by missing pieces of critical data, assertions challenged by outside experts or other struggles to demonstrate the reasons for major shifts in federal food and farm policy.
Ahead Of President Trump's State Of The Union, Here's What You Need To Know
President Trump is set to deliver his third State of the Union address Tuesday night, less than a day before the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on two articles of impeachment against him. While the scene on Capitol Hill has been tumultuous during the impeachment trial, a senior administration official told reporters last week that Trump's address would be themed around "the great American comeback" and would put forth a vision of "relentless optimism." The speech is set to begin around 9 p.m. ET. A senior administration official told reporters that Trump would highlight promises he has kept as president and would highlight the strength of the U.S. economy and military. The White House has revealed two guests so far, both of whom highlight priorities Trump will mention in his speech: Tony Rankins, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who got a job working on a project in an Opportunity Zone in Cincinnati; and Raul Ortiz, the deputy chief of U.S. Border Patrol.
Congressman Steven Palazzo To Host Biloxi Police Chief as Guest for State of the Union
Congressman Steven Palazzo has announced the Biloxi Police Chief John B. Miller as his guest to the State of the Union. "It is my pleasure to have Chief Miller as my guest of honor for the State of the Union. Chief Miller has always been a leader for our community through good and bad times. For all that he and our law enforcement officers on the Gulf Coast have done for our area, I can't express my appreciation enough. I am glad to have Chief Miller join me for this historic night," Palazzo said. "I am humbled by Congressman Steven Palazzo's invitation to attend the State of the Union as his guest. Congressman Palazzo has always been a strong supporter of law enforcement on the Gulf Coast and across the state. I am honored to be given this opportunity to accompany Congressman Palazzo and hear our President speak regarding the state of our country and future plans for our great nation," said Miller.
Iowa Democratic Party: Caucus data accurate, but app coding error spit out partial results
The Iowa Democratic Party said early Tuesday the "underlying data" collected on the smartphone app used to report caucus results "was sound" but the system was only reporting out partial data, leading to an ongoing delay of final results from the Iowa caucuses. The error was caught early Monday as precinct caucus results started coming in and the Iowa Democratic Party ran them through accuracy and quality checks, said Troy Price, party chair, in a statement. He added precinct chairs reported data accurately, but it will take time to hand count and finalize the results. "We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed," he said in the statement. "The application's reporting issue did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately." He added the party has "every indication" the app was secure and there was no cyber intrusion or hacking of the system.
Is the Iowa caucus dead? Chaos and no results puts Hawkeye state's status in question
Is the Iowa caucus dead? The nation's first contest in presidential elections, the Iowa caucus, has long drawn floods of campaign staff and media attention as political parties try to winnow out their primary field. But the non-result for Democrats on Monday drew questions whether the Hawkeye state should be first to vote. "This fiasco means the end of the caucuses as a significant American political event. The rest of the country was already losing patience with Iowa anyway and this cooks Iowa's goose. Frankly, it should," David Yepsen, a famed and former Des Moines Register columnist told Politico. Monday's Democratic caucus was fraught with chaos as the Iowa Democratic Party delayed releasing official results due to widespread reporting problems amid new rules and a new app. With New Hampshire's primary and news of the president's State of the Union address and impeachment trial all around the corner, the weight of the results may be lost and Iowa's status as the bellwether state in question.
NYT Review: The Journalist and the Murderers
In "Race Against Time," Jerry Mitchell chronicles belated efforts -- many of them spurred by his own work as a journalist -- to prosecute perpetrators of racially motivated violence in Alabama and Mississippi during the 1960s. Beginning in the 1980s, as a reporter for the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell decided to reinvestigate unsolved civil-rights-era murder cases, pursuing old leads, uncovering new evidence and publishing article after article after article. His journalistic coups revealed an uncanny ability to wheedle incriminating remarks from defensive suspects and damning observations from unfriendly witnesses. A vivid, quick-paced, accessible account of horrific crimes, "Race Against Time" focuses on four cases in which Mitchell's reporting played a role.
U. of Mississippi opts for year-long celebration of black history in place of usual February events
February marks the beginning of Black History Month, but some members of the university community are questioning whether the month-long celebration is still viable in today's climate. The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement is taking a new approach to the traditional heritage month events that it has organized in past years at the university: "All in. All year." The Black Student Union will still host the seventh annual Black History Month Gala on Feb. 7, and the center will welcome Yusef Salaam for the Black History Month keynote address on Feb. 25. Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services, said he believes that in a place with a past like Mississippi, t Black History Month is critical, both to our country and to the University of Mississippi. "While advances have been made, there are still many hills to climb for people of color in the United States," Upshaw said. "Our campus is working diligently, but we still have a long way to go for true inclusion."
Ole Miss and Millsaps partner to offer dual degree programs
Students at the University of Mississippi and at Millsaps College soon will be able to simultaneously receive bachelor's degrees from each, thanks to a partnership agreement between the two institutions. Terms of the agreement, signed Jan. 31, include a 10-semester academic plan in which students earn two bachelor's degrees by transfer and reverse transfer through six semesters at Millsaps and four semesters at UM. Dual degrees opportunities include: Bachelor's in geophysics (Millsaps) and bachelor's in geological engineering (UM); Bachelor's in chemistry (Millsaps) and bachelor's in biomedical engineering (UM); Bachelor's in applied mathematics (Millsaps) and bachelor's in mechanical engineering (UM); and Bachelor's in chemistry (Millsaps) and bachelor's in general engineering (pre-med emphasis) (UM).
U. of West Alabama partners with East Mississippi Community College
The University of West Alabama And East Mississippi Community College have announced a partnership by making the process to transfer from a two year to four-year institution an easy transition. The partnership includes a $2,000 housing scholarship for the first year and requires a 2.0 GPA. "We're working very hard to try to expand our recruiting efforts in The State of Mississippi and this is just one of many efforts that will hopefully be coming in the future," said Brenda Jones, transfer coordinator.
Louisiana reinventing career and technical education: 'There is honor in all pathways'
The rebirth of Louisiana's career and technical education system could become one of the state's biggest education success stories in recent years. Not only has the number of students graduating with career diplomas skyrocketed. Some new high school graduates are landing jobs paying $40,000 or $50,000 per year or more, and starting careers that are in no danger of disappearing. "I believe there has been a paradigm shift in Louisiana from 'everyone has to go to college' to 'there are multiple, excellent options for all students,'" said state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, an engineer herself. The program, called Jump Start, was launched by the state Department of Education in 2014 and has long been a key focus for Superintendent of Education John White. The goal is for 40% of high school graduates to leave with a Jump Start degree and ensure options other than the military or low-wage jobs for those not headed to college.
UGA student falls for phone scam
A 20-year-old University of Georgia student recently was conned out of $5,000 by a telephone caller who posed as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The student fell for the scam on Jan. 24 when he received a call at about 5 p.m. from a man who said that during a drug bust DEA agents had found his personal information, according to a Athens-Clarke police report. The man told the student he needed to secure his money with a government bond so the student was directed to purchase $5,000 worth of gift cards. The student, who is from Peachtree City, purchased $1,000 in Google gift cards and $4,000 in Target gift cards. He then provided the cards' numbers to the caller, according to police.
Texas A&M experts: Take precautions against coronavirus, but don't panic
The advice from Texas A&M health experts to Brazos Valley residents continues to be "don't panic" regarding the novel coronavirus strain. One scholar praised the local and national response to the situation and urged area residents to continue best health practices, monitor news outlets and remain calm. A Texas A&M student and a Baylor student were tested for the coronavirus last month, but those results came back negative. Dr. Julian Leibowitz, A&M Health Science Center professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology, said Friday that face masks are "not terribly needed or useful" when outdoors. "Right now in this community, there is more danger from flu than there is from this new virus," Leibowitz said.
More student loan forgiveness sought for disabled borrowers
The federal government plans to forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding loan debt for roughly 25,000 disabled veterans in July. But while consumer and veterans' groups are applauding the move by the U.S. Department of Education, they also don't think it goes far enough. They want the department to discharge the student loans of nearly 400,000 other borrowers who have also been deemed too disabled to work by the federal government but don't qualify for the relief either because they are not veterans or because their injuries were not service related. Meanwhile, the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House education committee is also criticizing the department for not going further. The question of how far the Trump administration should go to forgive the debt of those who are too disabled to work comes after the department has tried to address why only a small percentage of disabled veterans have had their loans discharged, which they are entitled to under the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal student aid.
University flight programs ramp up private partnerships
The new academic center for Kent State University's College of Aeronautics and Engineering followed a big donation from FedEx. The company pledged $6.5 million to the university to pay for the large new building, complete with new aircraft simulators, briefing rooms and 70-seat classrooms. Maureen McFarland, associate dean of academic affairs at the college, who ran the flight program for 10 years, said the department previously operated out of trailers at the Kent State airport. "It was very challenging," she said. In order to gain financial support for the project from private companies, the university needed to demonstrate its value to them, said Stephen Sokany, Kent State's vice president of institutional advancement. University leaders made the case to FedEx that with a new academic center, the college could increase its potential number of graduating pilots by 67 percent. The promise so far has held true.
Despite cash infusion PERS' ship keeps sinking
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: Here we go again at PERS, the state employee retirement system. Despite last year's promise to legislators that a boost in employer contributions would right the ship, the ship sank again in FY 2019. The latest Actuarial Valuation Report (delayed until after the election) showed PERS' unfunded pension liability jumped up $1 billion, from $16.9 billion to $18 billion. The funded ratio also dropped from 61.8% to 60.9%. The extra $100 million annually from increased employer contributions was supposed to reduce the shortfall and move the funded ratio upward, hitting 100% in 30 years. While some changes to actuarial assumptions impacted calculations, PERS' big problem remains growing numbers of retirees but decreasing numbers of employees. ... Gov. Haley Barbour spotlighted PERS' financial problems back in 2011 when he appointed a special commission to recommend changes "to ensure the solvency of the fund." ... The commission recommended a number of changes to turn PERS around. ... Virtually none were pursued or adopted by the Legislature or the PERS board.

No. 8 Mississippi State overcomes slow start against Georgia
The first quarter on Monday was one that No. 8 Mississippi State would like to forget. MSU made only 4 of 19 shots and fell behind Georgia early but bounced back in a big way for a 67-53 victory, the fifth-straight over UGA. Georgia outscored Mississippi State 15-11 in the first and fourth quarters but State's efforts in the middle portion of the game proved to be the deciding factor, pummeling the visiting Bulldogs 45-23. "I thought we were pretty locked in tonight," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "I thought our offensive execution in that second and third quarter was really good. Defensively, we weren't too bad tonight but we're still a work in progress." The visiting team also lost its star player, Gabby Connally, early in the second quarter after she collided with Jordan Danberry. Connally suffered a cut above her left eye and had to be taken to OCH Regional Medical Center for stitches according to Georgia coach Joni Taylor. MSU travels to No. 23 Tennessee on Thursday to play at 5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
What Vic Schaefer liked about Mississippi State's win over Georgia
Vic Schaefer challenged his players to be better. In his eyes, they were. Schaefer called his No. 8 Mississippi State Bulldogs out for not giving maximum effort in their five-point win over Auburn last week. Schaefer said he saw the nail-biter coming. "I can see it, our lack of focus in practice, attention to detail," Schaefer said the day after the game. The narrow victory was enough to scare an unnamed freshman into rethinking her habits. "OK coach, I get it," the player told Schaefer, as he recalled it. "I'm ready. I'm ready to listen. That was too close for comfort." Monday night's game against Georgia was too close for comfort, but only for a quarter. Mississippi State trailed Georgia 15-11 at the end of the first frame. The home Dawgs shot 21%. It looked like a carryover from the Auburn, but even worse offensively. It got better from there for the home side.
Rickea Jackson's 24 points lead Mississippi State women over Georgia
As freshman guard Rickea Jackson helped herself off the floor, junior guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter let out an exacerbated yell. "Come on!" Espinoza-Hunter exclaimed as she helped Jackson off the floor after the latter finished through contact and a whistle for two of her 24 points on the night. Flashing the rugged offensive ability to finish in and around the rim mixed with a dynamic baseline jumper, Jackson capped off her second straight 20-point outing as she carried the Bulldogs (20-3, 8-1 SEC) to a 67-53 win over Georgia (12-10, 3-6 SEC) Monday at Humphrey Coliseum. With the victory, coach Vic Schaefer's bunch now hits a stretch of three-straight games against ranked opponents, starting Thursday in Knoxville against No. 23 Tennessee -- a place MSU has won just twice in program history. And though the Bulldogs have won six of their past seven games against the Volunteers, MSU faces minimal practice time as they'll play three games in the next six days.
Mississippi State seeking a rare win at Rupp Arena
Mississippi State has climbed back into the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid thanks to five consecutive Southeastern Conference victories. However, the Bulldogs have a tall task ahead of them tonight if they want to extend their winning streak. MSU visits No. 15 Kentucky at 8 p.m. on ESPN, searching for their first victory against the Wildcats in 11 years. The Bulldogs' last win in the series came at Rupp Arena in 2009 and they have dropped 13 straight to UK since. In fact, State is only 5-49 all-time in Lexington. "They have a great home-court advantage," said MSU coach Ben Howland. "You have to play really well to beat anybody on the road, much less Kentucky -- which has the best home court advantage in our conference. It's just a great atmosphere for basketball on a national level. I don't know that there's a better home court in the entire country."
Red-hot Mississippi State men hoping for upset of No. 15 Kentucky Tuesday
Historically speaking, the Mississippi State men's basketball team has had very little success against college basketball blue blood Kentucky. The Bulldogs are far from alone in that regard, of course. But that's probably not going to make MSU fans feel any better. Kentucky owns a 85-18 record all-time against the Bulldogs and has won the last 13 matchups. MSU hasn't beaten the Wildcats since the 2008-2009 season, when it capped off a three-game winning streak against Kentucky with a 66-57 victory in Lexington. Tuesday night, the current Bulldogs face their Southeastern Conference foe in what has traditionally been a house of horrors for most colleges that don't have the word Kentucky printed on the front of their jerseys: Rupp Arena. "At the end of the day, it's a basketball court," MSU coach Ben Howland said.
'You better be the aggressor': UK anticipates another physical test against Mississippi State
In anticipation of a second mano a mano competition in four nights, Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne had a man-to-man meeting with Nick Richards on Monday. The subject: reviewing how Auburn's Austin Wiley had -- to quote UK Coach John Calipari -- "a field day" against Richards on Saturday, and then noting how the challenge Tuesday night begins with Mississippi State's Reggie Perry, who has been an even more productive presence than Wiley. Payne asked Richards to remember how he wanted more playing time the previous two seasons. "You were saying, 'I just want to play, man,'" Payne said Monday. "'I'll do whatever. Just let me play.'" Then as if speaking to Richards, Payne told said his response was, "Well, not only are you getting a chance to play, how you play determines how this team is going to win or lose. That's a lot of responsibility. You better come into this thing every single day prepared for war." When asked to characterize the challenge Perry presents, Payne said, "He's an NBA player."
Mississippi State's Reggie Perry earns second SEC Player of the Week honor
For the second time this season, Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry has been named the Southeastern Conference's player of the week. Perry, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, averaged 25.5 points and 10 rebounds in wins against Florida and Tennessee. He is the only player in the league averaging a double-double per game. Perry shares the honor with Arkansas' Mason Jones, who averaged 32 points and 8.5 rebounds in two contests. MSU is back in action against Kentucky at 8 p.m, Tuesday at Rupp Arena.
SEC names new coordinator of football officials: Former league ref John McDaid
The Southeastern Conference has named a new leader for the league's officiating crews. John McDaid, a 24-year college officiating veteran, was named the SEC's Coordinator of Football Officials, league commissioner Greg Sankey announced Monday. He replaces Steve Shaw, who served as the league's officiating coordinator since 2011 before he was tabbed as college football's national coordinator for the College Football Officiating board. McDaid, a 1987 Harvard graduate, has been a referee in three conferences since 2006. He was a back judge in the former Big East Conference from 2001-05, a referee in the Big East from 2006-12, and he joined the SEC as a referee in 2015 after two seasons in the same position with the American Athletic Conference. McDaid will also oversee the Sun Belt Conference officials, due to a cooperative agreement between the two leagues.
Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy charged with DUI
An Ole Miss baseball player was arrested on a DUI charge early Monday morning. Sophomore pitcher Doug Nikhazy was arrested in the early morning hours of Monday. In an emailed statement from Ole Miss Athletics, head coach Mike Bianco said: "We are aware of the situation, and we will handle it appropriately and internally." Nikhazy is expected to be a staple in the Rebel rotation in 2020 after setting an Ole Miss freshman record with 86 strikeouts in 2019. Ole Miss opens its 2020 season against #1 Louisville on February 14th. It's unclear at this time if Nikhazy will face any suspension following his arrest.
Malcolm Turner resigns after one year as Vanderbilt athletics director
Malcolm Turner has resigned as Vanderbilt athletics director, the university announced today. Candice Storey Lee, a former Vanderbilt student-athlete and three-time graduate of the university, has been named interim vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and interim athletic director, effective immediately. Vanderbilt accepted Turner's resignation as vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director today. "Candice embodies the Vanderbilt Way, which is our commitment to ensuring that student-athletes excel on the field of play, academically and in life," Wente said. "Candice is a trailblazer. Her unparalleled work ethic, energy and vision, and steadfast commitment to the Commodore family, will only build on our momentum."

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