Big Three get ready to hit the road
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
JAN. 29, 2001
This week, road tests highlight the obstacles for the state's Big Three in college basketball action.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs will look to build on last weekend's big win over arch-rival Ole Miss, and try to get back into the Western Division race as they take to the road to face the Cliff Ellis-led Auburn Tigers. Tipoff for Wednesday night's game is set for 7 p.m.
The Tigers (12-8, 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference) will no doubt be looking for redemption, having dropped an 81-80 heartbreaker to the arch-rival Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Bulldogs (11-6, 2-4 in SEC) follow that up with perhaps an even tougher task traveling to Fayetteville to meet the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-6, 3-3), who squeaked past LSU 59-52 Saturday.
Ole Miss (15-4, 3-3), meanwhile, could possibly fall out of the Top 25 poll by virtue of Saturday's 79-69 loss.
A home win Wednesday night against the Razorbacks and the Saturday tilt at Auburn could keep them in contention with Alabama for first place in the West. The Arkansas game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile in Conference USA, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (15-4, 4-2 in National Division) are hurting after getting upset 71-60 in a road loss to the UNC-Charlotte 49ers, in a game that saw USM center Vandarel Jones score 17 points.
After the Tuesday tilt in Milwaukee against Marquette, the Eagles return to Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg for a rematch with the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, whom the Golden Eagles defeated earlier this season on the road.
Other big games in the state this week see the Delta State Statesmen (11-6, 6-2 in the Gulf South Conference) fresh off a Saturday night 106-71 whipping of Christian Brothers, travel to Ouachita (Ark.) Baptist before returning to Walter Sillers Coliseum to hook up with the Arkansas Tech Wonderboys.
Both are key conference matchups.
The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils travel to face hapless Grambling State, who earlier lost a home game against Jackson State. The Devils then make the trek to play Alabama A&M on Saturday.
Jackson State is seeking just the Tigers' third win after falling to the Devils. JSU travels to Pine Bluff, Ark., then to Lorman to face Alcorn State. The Braves, meanwhile, play host to Southern to open the week.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.