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State, Ole Miss battle tops this week's college hoops

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
JAN. 22, 2001
Some have called a rivalry, others a bloodwar. It's the dominant topic of sports conversation here in the Magnolia State.
However you choose to view it, it is always a war. And this week promises to be no different, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Ole Miss Rebels' tilt highlights the week's action in college basketball.
But before the two square off in Starkville on Saturday, other business has to be tended to, at least for the Bulldogs anyway.
The Rebels (15-3, 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference), are coming off an impressive 65-55 win over the Kentucky Wildcats last Saturday. The Rebels now have time to rest with no games slated until the Stark Vegas contest.
The Bulldogs (10-5, 1-3 SEC) return home from Knoxville, Tenn. after a disappointing 84-79 loss that saw them fall behind by 19 in the second half, only to pull to within two on an Antonio Jackson 3-pointer with 27.8 seconds left.
The comforts of Humphrey Coliseum may be just what the Bulldogs need as they have lost eight SEC road games in a row and haven't won on the road since defeating Arizona 75-74 in the championship of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic earlier in the season.
The Bulldogs will have to try and get back on track at home Wednesday night against an LSU Tiger team with all sorts of problems. John Brady's club competed hard, but fell on the road to the Georgia Bulldogs, 68-63 Sunday. LSU (10-5) has lost four of five games and is 0-4 in the SEC for the first time since the 1971-72 season.
Staying in the SEC, the Alabama Crimson Tide (14-3, 3-2) are again tied with the Rebels for first place in the SEC West and trying to figure out what went wrong after getting blown out in Fayetteville by the Arkansas Razorbacks by 29 Saturday night.
Mark Gottfried's bunch will try to re-group with a two game homestand this week. It won't be easy, however, as they hook up with the Kentucky Wildcats on ESPN Tuesday night and then host bitter rival Auburn on Saturday.
Over in Conference USA, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are 14-3, 4-1 in CUSA) after putting away Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum's Louisville Cardinals 69-60 at Reed Green Coliseum. The Eagles three game home stretch concludes with the 4-12 Houston Cougars on Wednesday. Then USM caps the week with a trip to North Carolina to take on the UNC-Charlotte 49ers (8-7, 2-3) on Saturday.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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